UK Parliament Votes on Cancelling March 29th Brexit Day

British MPs set to vote on delaying Brexit
AFP
OLIVER JJ LANE

Members of the UK House of Commons are voting on a government motion on applying to the European Union to cancel the legally enshrined Brexit day in favour of a new date in the future, and a series of backbench amendments on the third day of votes in an extraordinary week in British politics.

UPDATE 1825 — Government motion to postpone Brexit passes 412-202

That’s it — the House of Commons has voted to postpone Brexit beyond March 29th, 2019.

What happens now? Parliament has essentially commanded the Prime Minister to go back to Brussels and to ask for a delay to the departure date. While you might assume they would be minded to agree to that, given the EU doesn’t particularly want Britain to leave, things are never so simple. Read more on this subject in our coverage from earlier today:

UPDATE 1810 — Labour’s amendment fails to pass 302 to 318

Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment has failed to pass, again by a pretty narrow margin.

Chris Bryant’s amendment J, supposed to be the fourth vote this evening, has not been moved, the proposer withdrawing it at the last moment. The House is now heading to the lobbies to vote on the main business of the evening, the government’s motion.

The next and final vote is on whether Brexit day — presently legally enshrined as March 29th — should be cancelled and the Government

UPDATE 1745 — Hillary Benn’s amendment fails by two votes

Spectacularly close — Benn’s vote to wrestle control off the government fails by just two votes, 312-314. Some relief for the government as this passing would have led to a series of votes in the Commons as members discussed and voted on precisely the sort of Brexit they wanted.

Now it’s time for Labour’s motion to extend the Brexit process until MPs agree on a consensus on Brexit. In other words, to extend it forever.

UPDATE 1732 — House votes against the amendment to Benn on Brexit alternatives 311-314

This vote is really about giving control of the Brexit process to the House of Commons itself, taking it away from the government. The BBC said it would be a “nail biter” result and they weren’t wrong, failing with a majority of just three votes.

Now that we’ve had the vote on the amendment to the amendment, we can have the vote on the amendment proper. Making sense so far? Good…

UPDATE 1716 — Amendment calling for Brexit day to be cancelled and a second referendum called fails by a significant margin

Amendment H, which would have seen a second referendum calls falls, achieving 85 votes for to 334 against. The enormous defeat of this motion may seem odd, given so many members of Parliament support a second referendum, but as Labour MPs explained earlier today in an open letter they are keeping their powder dry for a big push to overturn the 2016 referendum at a later date.

Despite that, Jacob Rees-Mogg seems optimistic:

Members are voting again now on Amendment I, which somewhat unusually is an amendment to an amendment. It too is looking to a second referendum.

UPDATE 1700 — Voting begins

Amendment H, first, Sarah Woolaston’s plan. If you’ve forgotten what the individual amendments being voted on tonight are, here’s a summary from Breitbart’s reporting earlier in the day:

  • Amendment H, tabled by Tory Remainer Sarah Wollaston, calls for an extension to Article 50 to allow for time for a second referendum;
  • Amendment I, tabled by Labour Remainer Hilary Benn, would allow MPs to take control over Brexit from the government and hold votes on Brexit alternatives, which could include a second referendum;
  • Amendment E, tabled by the Labour Party, seeks to extend Article 50 until MPs agree on a consensus on Brexit;
  • and Amendment J, tabled by Labour Remainer Chris Bryant, blocks Prime Minister Theresa May from putting her Withdrawal Agreement to the House for a third time

These four were selected from 11 put forward. Controversially, Speak Bercow neglected to select the only motion that was pro-Brexit, and later told members complaining that it was something they’d just have to accept.

The results are expected in a matter of minutes.

Tonight’s vote follows more votes that took place on Wednesday and Tuesday evenings, near-seismic events in British politics which saw the government defeated on a number of occasions. Most extraordinary, perhaps, was Wednesday night when an amendment passed which dramatically altered the main government motion, forcing Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative MPs being forced into voting against their own motion.

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