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Brexit Debate 29 January 2019 – Result

The Brexit debate held on the 29 January 2019 resulted in an agreement to reject “No Deal” (amendment (i)) and “requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements” (amendment (n)). The House (of Commons) would then “support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change”.

The next step is for the Prime Minister to discuss with the EU whether suitable changes can be made to the Backstop arrangement, that is currently defined in the Withdrawal Agreement, which would enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified by the House of Commons.

Initial indications from the EU are that “negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened“.

It is also unclear exactly what “alternative arrangements” actually mean. Could it simply be a case of adding a “legally binding” commitment for an expiry date for the Backstop and would this be sufficient ?

More details on the votes follow:

Amendments selected by the Speaker were as follows:

The following amendments in the following order: (a) in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn; (o) in the name of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Mr Ian Blackford; (g) in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve; (b) in the name of the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper; (j) in the name of the hon. Member for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves; (i) in the name of the right hon. Member for Meriden, Dame Caroline Spelman; and (n) in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West, Sir Graham Brady. Reference may be made in debate to any of the amendments on the Order Paper, including those I have not selected.

The debate was opened by Theresa May. Following lengthy discussion, votes on the amendments were taken at around 7:00 pm

Full details of the amendments can be found in earlier articles or in the order paper at

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmagenda/OP190129.pdf

Amendment (a) (Jeremy Corbyn) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 296 for and 327 against

Amendment (o) (Ian Blackford) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 39 for and 327 against

Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 301 for and 321 against

Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 298 for and 321 against

Amendment (j) (Rachel Reeves) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 290 for and 322 against

Amendment (i) (Dame Caroline Spelman) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 318 for and 310 against

Amendment (n) (Sir Graham Brady) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 317 for and 301 against

So the Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to now reads:

That this House, in accordance with the provisions of section 13(6)(a) and 13(11)(b)(i) and 13(13)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, has considered the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 21 January 2019, and the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(11)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 24 January 2019, and rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship, and requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.

My additional comments would be:

#Brexit – Amendment to rule out no deal is passed by 318 votes to 310. Has the Commons “emphatically rejected” the option of a No Deal at 50.6% to 49.4% or did MPs “not understand what they were voting for” ?

#Brexit “Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” 317 to 301 (51.3% to 48.7%). What are alternative arrangements and does the EU 27 even want further discussion about it ?

It is also interesting to see in more detail the voting patterns of MPs which can be found through the Hansard proceedings for the the day via

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-01-29/debates/BB8A5769-12B4-4D0E-9B4E-158F89F9FCDE/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Act2018

For example,

for Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper), 17 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

for Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) 15 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

It appears that the main Conservative “rebels” are those strongly in favour of remaining in the EU.

The DUP voted in the Government’s favour with all the amendments.

PM Press Statement 14 December 2018

Theresa May made a Press Statement following a meeting of the EU Council on 14 December 2018.

“At this Council meeting, I have held a series of discussions with my fellow leaders on the Brexit deal and I was crystal clear about the assurances which are needed on the backstop having heard the views of MPs in the House of Commons.

I reiterated that it is in the interests of the EU as well as the UK to get this over the line. A disorderly Brexit would be good for no-one.

At 27 level, the EU have published a series of conclusions.

The EU made clear:

  • That it is their firm determination to work speedily on a future relationship or alternative arrangements which ensure no hard border by 31 December 2020 so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
  • If the backstop was ever triggered, it would apply only temporarily and the EU would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop.
  • That the EU stands ready to embark on preparations so that negotiations on the future partnership can start as soon as possible.

As formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed.

As I have always said, the guaranteed way of avoiding the backstop is to have the future partnership in place by the time the implementation period is over. The EU is very firmly committed to this course.

But MPs will require further assurances, and I have discussed that this morning with my EU partners, including Presidents Tusk, Juncker and others.

I note there has been reporting that the EU is not willing to consider any further clarification. The EU is clear – as I am – that if we are going to leave with a deal this is it.

But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the Council’s conclusions is in fact possible.

There is work still to do and we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal.

I say again. It is in the overwhelming interest of all our people – in the EU and the UK – to get this done, and as quickly as possible.”

PM speech to CBI: 19 November 2018

Theresa May’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry on 19 November 2018.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-to-cbi-19-november-2018

Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be back with the CBI again. Let me start by thanking Carolyn for your leadership of the CBI as Director General. And also welcome John Allan, who has taken up his role as President since I last addressed you. I know John from his time on the Home Office Supervisory Board and I know he will make a fantastic contribution as President. There is one paramount issue facing our country at the moment, and I know it is the number one concern of the CBI, so let me get right to it.

Last week the Cabinet agreed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. We also agreed a draft outline of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Both documents were the result of many hours of negotiation between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Together they represent a decisive breakthrough – but they are not the final deal. We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us in the run-up to the special European Council on Sunday. During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship and I am confident that we can strike a deal at the council that I can take back to the House of Commons. The core elements of that deal are already in place.

The Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed in full, subject of course to final agreement being reached on the future framework. That Agreement is a good one for the UK. It fulfils the wishes of the British people as expressed in the 2016 referendum. I have always had a very clear sense of the outcomes I wanted to deliver for people in these negotiations. Control over our borders, by bringing an end to free movement, once and for all. Control of our money, so we can decide for ourselves how to spend it, and can do so on priorities like the NHS. Control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom and ensuring that our laws are made and enforced here in this country. Getting us out of those EU programmes that do not work in our interests, like the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. And that is exactly what we are going to deliver.

Let me say a little more about the first of those items – getting back full control of our borders – because I know that is an issue of great importance to the British people. The United Kingdom is a country that values the contribution that immigration has made to our society and economy over many years. And in the future, outside the EU, immigration will continue to make a positive contribution to our national life. But the difference will be this: once we have left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here. It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi. Instead of a system based on where a person is from, we will have one that is built around the talents and skills a person has to offer. Not only will this deliver on the verdict of the referendum. It should lead to greater opportunity for young people in this country to access training and skilled employment.

Statement by Michel Barnier – 19 November 2018

Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting on 19 November 2018.

Statement by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations at the press conference with Gernot Blümel, Austrian Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media after the General Affairs Council

Brussels, 19 November 2018

Opening statement by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well after a very busy few days and also busy nights.

Thank you very much, Gernot, for your appreciation. Thank you also to the team of the Austrian Presidency. If I may, at a very key moment where we are in this negotiation, I want to thank the Council, the team of the Council, the Parliament also, and obviously Jean-Claude Juncker and all the services of the Commission for their trust and their cooperation.

I have just debriefed the Ministers of the EU27 on the agreement that we reached last week at negotiators’ level on the draft Withdrawal Agreement, as well as on the outline of the political declaration on the future relationship.

We are in fact at a decisive moment in this process. No one should lose sight of the progress that has been achieved in Brussels and in London.

I am pleased that Ministers today supported the overall package. In particular, Member States support the draft Withdrawal Agreement. On the EU side, we still need to determine the internal procedure of the Union for agreeing to extend the transition. But globally speaking, this deal is fair and balanced.

It takes into account the UK positions. In particular, we have found a compromise to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both sides, both parties want to avoid using the backstop.

Finally, this deal allows for the orderly withdrawal which is in our common interest. An orderly withdrawal is the condition to lay the ground for an ambitious partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have also informed Ministers of the state of play of the discussions on the framework for the future relationship. Discussions on that declaration are ongoing – now, today – with the UK negotiators. This is now our focus. The declaration will open the door to negotiations on an ambitious, economic and strategic partnership in the future once the UK will have left.

In any case, for the future relationship, both the EU and the UK will have full control of their own legislation and rule-making. This is essential, on our side, for the integrity of the single market. It is essential for the UK in terms of taking back control.

Now, more than ever, we must all remain calm – and I will remain calm – and keep our focus on the need for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

Thank you very much.

EU General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting on 19 November 2018

The Council, in an EU27 format, prepared for the special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) scheduled for Sunday 25 November 2018.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac-art50/2018/11/19/

In preparation for the summit, ministers exchanged views on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement as presented and published by the negotiators on 14 November 2018. This text has been agreed by both sides, the EU and the UK, at the level of the negotiators.

The EU and the UK negotiators have reached a deal on all the aspects of the UK withdrawal, including securing the rights of citizens. Generally the result is a fair compromise. Both sides have moved towards each other. Break-ups are never easy, but it is always better when they happen in friendly terms. That is also the best way to build a good relationship for the future. We still want the UK as an essential partner in all fields for many years to come.

Gernot BLÜMEL, Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media of Austria

Ministers also commented on the outline for a political declaration on future EU-UK relations that was presented by the negotiators together with the draft withdrawal agreement on 14 November 2018. This outline serves as a basis for the final text of the political declaration that is currently being negotiated with the UK and that will accompany and be referred to in the withdrawal agreement.

EU27 leaders will meet to endorse the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Sunday 25 November 2018.

The summit was called by President Donald Tusk on 15 November 2018, after his meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who presented to him the draft text as agreed with the UK at the level of the negotiators.

On Sunday 25 November 2018, EU27 leaders are expected to endorse the Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the political declaration on future EU-UK relations.

“If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting, in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

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