On Tuesday the second “meaningful vote” on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was held. As usual, nothing has changed. You can hear my thoughts on this prior to the vote in the video below.
Brexit Update 👉 Today is the second “meaningful vote” on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. As usual, nothing has changed ⬇️⬇️⬇️
Posted by Maria Eagle MP on Tuesday, March 12, 2019
As expected the Prime Minister suffered another catastrophic defeat by a majority of 149, the second such defeat. What happens next? I explain below.
Brexit Update 👉 Last night the Prime Minister suffered another catastrophic defeat by a majority of 149 when she brought her Brexit deal back to Parliament for the second "meaningful vote". What happens next? I explain below ⬇️
Posted by Maria Eagle MP on Wednesday, March 13, 2019
You may have also seen that on Thursday 14th March, the House of Commons voted to instruct the Government to seek a delay to the Brexit departure date of 29th March. This is the only sensible way forward now that the PMs bad deal has been defeated twice by very high margins.
Unfortunately, the Benn amendment that would have wrested control of the process from our divided and incompetent Government was lost by two votes. However, we were able to make the Government ask the EU27 for an extension. This was passed on Labour votes as a clear majority of Tories voted against it – including Cabinet Ministers. We were treated to the extraordinary sight of the Brexit Secretary, having argued in favour of seeking an extension when winding up the debate, vote against it in the division. This makes a mockery of the rules of our constitution. The Government Chief Whip abstained yet this is the main policy the Government is pursuing and the idea that either should still be in their posts is extraordinary. For the Government to offer a free vote on such an important issue makes a mockery of the rules of our Parliament and is an indication of how riven the Conservative Party is and how weak the Prime Minister is, shorn of all credibility and authority.
I have made it clear for months that I am in favour of any Brexit deal being taken forward by the Government being put to a People’s Vote which should include an option to remain. I will not vote for any form of Brexit that does not guarantee this.
The votes in the House of Commons on Thursday 14th March were primarily about forcing the Government to seek an extension of the time to deal with Brexit. This is something they did not want to do and Parliament had to force them to do it. The Commons voted to prevent the catastrophe of a no deal exit on 29th March 2019 even if the majority in the Tory Party voted against it.
The Benn amendment (i) provided a process to enable backbenchers to force the Government to comply with these instructions by taking control of the business on the floor of the House of Commons to do it. Otherwise, the Government were showing every sign of simply running down the clock to try and force MPs to vote for the PMs flawed deal even though it has been heavily defeated twice because the alternative would be a crashing out with no deal and no transition on 29 March.
The Wollaston amendment (h) called for a new referendum but if it had been passed the Benn amendment (i) which is the only thing that provided a practical way of forcing the Government to seek an extension from the EU would have fallen as a result.
For that reason, Labour whipped to abstain on the referendum amendment at this time and I am content that this position was correct. Let me be clear, this does NOT preclude an amendment being put that can achieve a People’s Vote when the PM tries again to get her deal passed, probably next week.
The People’s Vote campaign themselves recognised that the Wollaston amendment should not be supported at this time. Keir Starmer was very clear from the despatch box that we will be supporting a People’s Vote amendment and whip in favour of it, when it has the best chance of passing.
I know that much of the consideration of these things seems arcane and it can be difficult to follow the procedural and tactical considerations from outside the Commons. This particularly true in a Parliament where the Government has no majority, no respect for the sovereignty of Parliament, very little evidence of collective responsibility and where the Government whips have completely lost control. Even so I thought it worth seeking to explain why it is correct not to have voted on this occasion for a motion the substance of which I agree with. I will, you can be certain, be supporting such an amendment when it has the chance to succeed.