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Shenanigans – Meaningful Vote (3)

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons in the UK Parliament made a statement on 18 March 2019 regarding the Meaningful Vote motion, quoting a parliamentary convention from 415 years ago.

Speaker’s Statement

Speakers Statment

I wish to make a statement to the House. There has been much speculation over the past week about the possibility of the Government bringing before the House a motion on Brexit for another so-called meaningful vote under the statutory framework provided in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. On 13 March, however, the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) asked on a point of order, at column 394, whether it would be proper for the Government to keep bringing the same deal back to the House ad infinitum. I replied that no ruling was necessary at that stage, but that one might be required at some point in the future. Subsequently Members on both sides of the House, and indeed on both sides of the Brexit argument, have expressed their concerns to me about the House being repeatedly asked to pronounce on the same fundamental proposition.

The 24th edition of “Erskine May” states on page 397:

“A motion or an amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided during a session may not be brought forward again during that same session.”

It goes on to state:

“Attempts have been made to evade this rule by raising again, with verbal alterations, the essential portions of motions which have been negatived. Whether the second motion is substantially the same as the first is finally a matter for the judgment of the Chair.”

This convention is very strong and of long standing, dating back to 2 April 1604. Last Thursday, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) quoted examples of occasions when the ruling had been reasserted by four different Speakers of this House, notably in 1864, 1870, 1882, 1891 and 1912. Each time, the Speaker of the day ruled that a motion could not be brought back because it had already been decided in that same Session of Parliament. Indeed, “Erskine May” makes reference to no fewer than 12 such rulings up to the year 1920.

One of the reasons why the rule has lasted so long is that it is a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the House’s time and proper respect for the decisions that it takes. Decisions of the House matter. They have weight. In many cases, they have direct effects not only here but on the lives of our constituents. Absence of Speaker intervention since 1920 is attributable not to the discontinuation of the convention but to general compliance with it; thus, as “Erskine May” notes, the Public Bill Office has often disallowed Bills on the ground that a Bill with the same or very similar long title cannot be presented again in the same Session.

So far as our present situation is concerned, let me summarise the chronology of events. The draft EU withdrawal agreement, giving effect to the deal between the Government and the EU, was published on 14 November and the agreement itself, together with the accompanying political declaration on the future relationship, received endorsement from the European Council on 25 November. The first scheduled debate on what I will hereafter refer to as “the deal” was due to take place on 11 December. However, on 10 December the vote was postponed after 164 speeches had already been made over three of the five days allotted for debate. That postponement was caused not by me or by the House, but by the Government. Indeed, I pointed ​out at the time that that was deeply discourteous to the House and I suggested that the permission of the House for that postponement should be sought. Regrettably, it was not.

Over five weeks later, following a further five-day debate, the first meaningful vote was held on 15 January, which the Government lost by a margin of 230 votes—the largest in parliamentary history. Subsequently, the second meaningful vote was expected to take place in February, but once again there was a postponement. It finally happened only last Tuesday, 12 March. The Government’s motion on the deal was again very heavily defeated.

In my judgment, that second meaningful vote motion did not fall foul of the convention about matters already having been decided during the same Session. This was because it could be credibly argued that it was a different proposition from that already rejected by the House on 15 January. It contained a number of legal changes which the Government considered to be binding and which had been agreed with the European Union after intensive discussions. Moreover, the Government’s second meaningful vote motion was accompanied by the publication of three new documents—two issued jointly with the EU and a unilateral declaration from the UK not objected to by the EU. In procedural terms, it was therefore quite proper that the debate and the second vote took place last week. The Government responded to its defeat, as they had promised to do, by scheduling debates about a no-deal Brexit and an extension of article 50 on 13 and 14 March respectively.

It has been strongly rumoured, although I have not received confirmation of this, that a third, and even possibly a fourth, meaningful vote motion will be attempted. Hence this statement, which is designed to signal what would be orderly and what would not. This is my conclusion: if the Government wish to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the House on 12 March, that would be entirely in order. What the Government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week, which was rejected by 149 votes. This ruling should not be regarded as my last word on the subject; it is simply meant to indicate the test which the Government must meet in order for me to rule that a third meaningful vote can legitimately be held in this parliamentary Session.

Results of the vote on an extension to Article 50

A motion to determine an extension to the Article 50 period ending at 11:00pm on 29 March 2019 was debated on 14 March 2019 in the House of Commons.

That this House:

(1) notes the resolutions of the House of 12 and 13 March, and accordingly agrees that the Government will seek to agree with the European Union an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3);

(2) agrees that, if the House has passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 20 March 2019, then the Government will seek to agree with the European Union a one-off extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) for a period ending on 30 June 2019 for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation; and

(3) notes that, if the House has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 20 March 2019, then it is highly likely that the European Council at its meeting the following day would require a clear purpose for any extension, not least to determine its length, and that any extension beyond 30 June 2019 would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019.

Various amendments to the original motion were debated and voted on

Amendment proposed: (h), to leave out from first “House” to end and add

“instructs the Prime Minister to request an extension to the Article 50 period at the European Council in March 2019 sufficient for the purposes of legislating for and conducting a public vote in which the people of the United Kingdom may give their consent for either leaving the European Union on terms to be determined by Parliament or retaining the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.”.—(Dr Wollaston.)

This amendment is asking for another referendum

Result of the vote on this amendment:

Ayes: 85 Noes: 334 (AMENDMENT DEFEATED)

The Conservative MPs (301) and DUP (10) remained united in this vote.

Labour MP’s abstained (most of them) from this vote on the basis that it was not the right time to consider another referendum, however 25 Labour MPs did vote in favour and 18 Labour MPs did vote against.

Manuscript amendment proposed: (i), leave out from “Article 50 (3)” to end and add

“to enable the House of Commons to find a way forward that can command majority support;

2. orders accordingly that on Wednesday 20 March—

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

(b) precedence shall be given to the motion specified in paragraph 3;

(c) the Speaker shall interrupt proceedings on any business before the motion specified in paragraph 3 at 1.30 pm and call a Member to move that motion;

(d) debate on that motion may continue until 7.00 pm at which time the Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that motion including the questions on amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved;

(e) any proceedings interrupted or superseded by this order may be resumed or (as the case may be) entered upon and proceeded with after the moment of interruption; and

3. the motion specified in this paragraph is a motion in the name of at least 25 Members, including at least five Members elected to the House as members of at least five different parties, relating to the Business of the House on a future day or days in connection with matters relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.”—(Hilary Benn.)

The next vote was on this amendment to the amendment (i)

Amendment proposed to manuscript amendment (i): before “to enable the House of Commons”

add “for a period ending on 30 June 2019”.—(Lucy Powell.)

Amendment (i) attempts to wrest control of the Brexit process from the Government.

Result of the vote on this amendment to amendment(i) :

Ayes: 311 Noes: 314 (AMENDMENT DEFEATED)

16 Rebel Tories voted against the Government line as follows:

  • Bebb, Guto
  • Benyon, rh Richard
  • Boles, Nick
  • Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
  • Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
  • Freeman, George
  • Greening, rh Justine
  • Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
  • Gyimah, Mr Sam
  • Halfon, rh Robert
  • Lee, Dr Phillip
  • Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
  • Sandbach, Antoinette
  • Soames, rh Sir Nicholas
  • Stevenson, John
  • Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

This vote was followed by a vote on Amendment (i) itself with the following result

Ayes: 312 Noes: 314 (AMENDMENT DEFEATED)

15 Rebel Tories voted against the Government line as follows:

  • Bebb, Guto
  • Benyon, rh Richard
  • Boles, Nick
  • Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
  • Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
  • Freeman, George
  • Greening, rh Justine
  • Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
  • Gyimah, Mr Sam
  • Lee, Dr Phillip
  • Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
  • Sandbach, Antoinette
  • Soames, rh Sir Nicholas
  • Stevenson, John
  • Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

Amendment proposed: (e), leave out paragraphs (2) and (3) and add:

“(2) notes that this House has decisively rejected the Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for the Future Relationship laid before the House and the proposition that the UK should leave the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship; and

(3) therefore instructs the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 in order to avoid exiting the EU on 29 March without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship; and to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach.”.—(Jeremy Corbyn.)

This amendment is calling for an extension to Article 50 in order to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for the Future Relationship.

Result of the vote on this amendment:

Ayes: 302 Noes: 318 (AMENDMENT DEFEATED)

1 Rebel Tory voted against the Government line as follows:

  • Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Amendment (j) was not put to a vote.

The Motion (without any amendments) was then voted on with the result

Ayes: 412 Noes: 202 (Motion Agreed)

Interesting to see how the votes went…

Only 112 Conservatives voted in favour of their own motion together with the majority of other MPs.

188 Conservative and 10 DUP MPs voted against the motion (seeking no extension and presumably a “no-deal” scenario.


Information obtained from Hansard

https://hansard.parliament.uk/

Avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland in a no deal scenario

by Politicker 0 Comments

The UK Government has set out its approach to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

Published: 13 March 2019
Last updated: 14 March 2019

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-exit-avoiding-a-hard-border-in-northern-ireland-in-a-no-deal-scenario

Contents

  • Compliance with international legal obligations
  • Protecting the biosecurity of the island of Ireland
  • Avoiding the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses
  • Where can I find more information?

The unique social, political and economic circumstances of Northern Ireland must be reflected in any arrangements that apply in a no deal scenario.

This government is committed to the Belfast Agreement and to do everything in our power to ensure no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Today we are confirming a strictly unilateral, temporary approach to checks, processes and tariffs in Northern Ireland. This would apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

The UK government would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, including no customs requirements for nearly all goods.

The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

We would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses – but these measures would not require checks at the border.

Because these are unilateral measures, they only mitigate the impacts from exit that are within the UK government’s control. These measures do not set out the position in respect of tariffs or processes to be applied to goods moving from Northern Ireland to Ireland.

Tariffs on imports after EU Exit

The Government is publishing information on essential policies which would need to be in place if the UK were to leave without a deal.

This approach was outlined by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 12 March 2019 to ensure MPs are fully informed before the vote on No Deal on 13 March 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-temporary-rates-of-customs-duty-on-imports-after-eu-exit

The information, aimed towards business, includes the government’s approach to customs duty, which is a tax you pay when importing goods.

The rate of customs duty you pay is known as the ‘tariff’.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you may need to pay different rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports. These rates would only be applied if the UK were to leave the EU with no deal.

The UK government would set temporary rates which would:

  • apply from 11pm on 29 March 2019
  • be in place for up to 12 months from 29 March 2019

Here is a list of the temporary rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports after EU Exit.

MFN and tariff quota rates of customs duty on imports if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Preferential tariff rates
A preferential tariff rate would apply if the country:

  • has a free trade agreement with the UK
  • is part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences
  • If a preferential tariff rate applies, this is the rate of customs duty (tariff) you would pay.

    Most-favoured-nation (MFN) tariff rates

    If a preferential tariff rate does not apply, this is the rate of customs duty (tariff) you would pay.

    Tariff quota rates (TRQ)

    If a tariff quota rate applies, you could apply to import a limited amount at a reduced rate of customs duty (tariff). You would need to claim for the tariff rate quota using the TRQ order number.

    Another day, another vote and 15 days left to Brexit

    Blah, blah, blah … Today’s motion to be debated and voted on is:

    UK’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION

    Until 5.00pm (Business of the House (Today) motion, if agreed to)

    The Prime Minister

    That this House:

    (1) notes the resolutions of the House of 12 and 13 March, and accordingly agrees that the Government will seek to agree with the European Union an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3);

    (2) agrees that, if the House has passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 20 March 2019, then the Government will seek to agree with the European Union a one-off extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) for a period ending on 30 June 2019 for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation; and

    (3) notes that, if the House has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 20 March 2019, then it is highly likely that the European Council at its meeting the following day would require a clear purpose for any extension, not least to determine its length, and that any extension beyond 30 June 2019 would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019.

    and yet another slew of amendments …

    In summary:

    Amendment (a)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “notes that the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons all voted overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Minister’s deal; recognises that the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament voted convincingly in favour of a People’s Vote; further notes that this House rejected the UK’s leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement and a future relationship framework; and therefore calls on the Government to honour the respective will of each Parliament by seeking to extend the time under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union until 2021, or until the future relationship has been negotiated, and by holding a binding referendum at the end of that period on either accepting the Withdrawal Agreement or retaining membership of the European Union.”.

    Amendment (c)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “calls on the Government to bring forward urgently the legislation necessary to require the Prime Minister to revoke before 29 March 2019 the UK’s notice of intention to withdraw from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.”.

    Amendment (d)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “calls on the Government to negotiate an extension to Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union of sufficient length so as to facilitate a referendum on whether to exit the European Union under the terms of the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement or to stay in membership of the European Union and all necessary associated measures.”.

    Amendment (f)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add, “calls on the Government to agree with the European Council an extension to the negotiating period under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to provide time for a public vote on the UK’s relationship with the EU including the option to remain; believes that throughout an extension period the option for this House to unilaterally revoke notice to withdraw under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union must remain on the table; recognises the resolutions of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly on 5 March 2019 to oppose the UK Government’s exit deal and agree that a no deal outcome to the current negotiations on EU withdrawal would be completely unacceptable on 29 March 2019, or at any time; believes Scotland must not be taken out of the European Union against its will, and that this can best be avoided by the people of Scotland exercising their sovereign right to choose their own constitutional future as a full, equal, sovereign, independent Member State of the European Union.”.

    Amendment (h)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “instructs the Prime Minister to request an extension to the Article 50 period at the European Council in March 2019 sufficient for the purposes of legislating for and conducting a public vote in which the people of the United Kingdom may give their consent for either leaving the European Union on terms to be determined by Parliament or retaining the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.”.

    Amendment (g)

    Line 2, leave out from “13 March” to end and add “and therefore instructs the Government to seek to agree with the European Union an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) to 22 May 2019 for the specific purpose of replacing the UK negotiating team.”.

    Amendment (e)

    Leave out paragraphs (2) and (3) and add:

    “(2) notes that this House has decisively rejected the Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for the Future Relationship laid before the House and the proposition that the UK should leave the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship; and

    (3) therefore instructs the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 in order to avoid exiting the EU on 29 March without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship; and to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach.”.

    Amendment (b)

    At end, add “(4) believes that the result of the 2016 EU referendum should be respected and that a second EU referendum would be divisive and expensive, and therefore should not take place.”.

    https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/agenda-and-order-of-business/#session=29&year=2019&month=2&day=14

    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmagenda/Order Paper OP190314.pdf

    How about another amendment – mine would be:

    Amendment (z)

    Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add

    “(i) voted to ask the people in a referendum whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, with no attached pre-conditions;

    (ii) respects the result of the people’s vote on 23 June 2016, to leave the EU and notes that 17,410,742 people voted to leave;

    (iii) voted to invoke article 50 and begin the process to leave the EU at the latest by 29 March 2019 at 11:00 pm GMT;

    (iv) voted to reject the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political Declaration negotiated with the EU;

    and rejects that any extension is necessary to the scheduled date for leaving the EU.”.

    Back to the real world Parliament

    Amendments tabled to the Motion on the UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union – final revised version

    Additional Amendments

    *Amendment (i) Hilary Benn

    Line 4, leave out from “Article 50 (3)” to end and add:

    “to enable the House of Commons to find a way forward that can command majority support;

    2. orders accordingly that on Wednesday 20 March –

    (a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

    (b) precedence shall be given to the motion specified in paragraph 3;

    (c) the Speaker shall interrupt proceedings on any business before the motion specified in paragraph 3 at 1.30 pm and call a Member to move that motion;

    (d) debate on that motion may continue until 7.00 pm at which time the Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that
    motion including the questions on amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved;

    (e) any proceedings interrupted or superseded by this order may be resumed or (as the case may be) entered upon and proceeded with after the moment of interruption; and

    3. the motion specified in this paragraph is a motion in the name of at least 25 Members, including at least five Members elected to the House as members of at least five different parties, relating to the Business of the House on a future day or days in connection with matters relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

    **As an amendment to Hilary Benn’s amendment (i)

    Line 2, at beginning insert “for a period ending on 30 June 2019”.

    *Amendment (k)

    Leave out paragraphs (2) and (3).

    *Amendment (j) Chris Bryant

    At end, add “notes that Erskine May states that a motion or an amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided in the affirmative or negative during the current session may not be brought forward again during that session; and therefore orders the Government not to move a further motion asking the House to approve the Withdrawal agreement and framework for the future partnership that the house declined to approve on 15 January 2019 and 12 March 2019.”.

    Selected amendments by the Speaker are as follows:

    I inform the House that I have selected amendment (h), in the name of the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), and amendment (i), in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), to which a manuscript amendment—

    “Line 2, at beginning insert ‘for a period ending on 30 June 2019′”—

    has been submitted, in the name of the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell), which I have selected; it will be distributed shortly.

    I have selected amendment (e), in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, and amendment (j)—J for Jemima—in the name of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant).

    If amendment (h) were to be agreed to, amendments (i) and (e) would fall. If amendment (i) were to be agreed to, amendment (e) would fall.

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