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Brexit next steps – Commons Vote 14 February 2019

Parliament debated a motion on the 14 February 2019, put forward by the Government, asking for the continued support of the House in negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

That this House welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement of 12 February 2019; reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU expressed by this House on 29 January 2019 and notes that discussions between the UK and the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop are ongoing.

Three amendments were selected:

(a) in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn);

Amendment proposed: (a), in line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add

“requires by 27 February 2019 a Minister of the Crown either (a) to move another motion under Section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 or (b) to make a written statement declaring that there is no longer an agreement in principle in the negotiations with the European Union and to move no later than that date an amendable motion on how the Government proposes to proceed.”.—(Jeremy Corbyn.)

(i) in the name of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford);

Amendment proposed: (i), in line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add

“requires that a Minister of the Crown immediately begin negotiations with the European Council to extend the period specified under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union by no fewer than three months from 29 March 2019, and bring forward an appropriate amendment to section 20 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to facilitate this change.”.—(Ian Blackford.)

(e) in the name of the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry).

would have required the Government to publish its most recent no-deal briefing documents. After the Government offered to release pertinent documentation in consultation with the MPs tabling the motion, the amendment was withdrawn.

Following debate, the following votes were recorded

Amendment (a): For 306, Against 322

Amendment (i): For 93, Against 315

Amendment (e): not voted on

The motion was put to a vote: For 258, Against 303 defeating the motion raised by the Government.

243 Conservative MPs voted with the Government, 5 against the Government and the rest abstaining.

PM’s statement to Parliament 12 February 2019

PM’s statement to the House of Commons on Brexit: 12 February 2019

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the Government’s ongoing work to secure a Brexit deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, commands the support of Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU.

On 29th January, this House gave me a clear mandate and sent an unequivocal message to the European Union. Last week, I took that message to Brussels. I met President Juncker, President Tusk, and the President of European Parliament, Antonio Tajani and I told them clearly what Parliament wanted in order to unite behind a Withdrawal Agreement: namely, legally binding changes to the backstop.

And I explained to them the three ways in which this can be achieved.

First, the backstop could be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Yesterday, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union met with Michel Barnier to discuss the ideas put forward by the Alternative Arrangements Working Group comprised of a number of my Hon and Rt Hon Friends. I am grateful to that group for their work and we are continuing to explore their ideas.

Second, there could be a legally-binding time limit to the existing backstop.

Or third, there could be a legally-binding unilateral exit clause to that backstop.

Given both sides agree we do not ever want to use the backstop, and that if we did it would be temporary, we believe it is reasonable to ask for legally binding changes to this effect. Mr Speaker, as expected, President Juncker maintained the EU’s position that they will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. And I set out the UK’s position, strengthened by the mandate that this House gave me, that this House needs to see legally-binding changes to the backstop and that can be achieved by changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. We both agreed that our teams should hold further talks to find a way forward, and he and I will meet again before the end of February to take stock of those discussions.

So our work continues. The Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are today in Strasbourg and last week the Attorney General was in Dublin to meet his Irish counterpart. And following my own visits to Brussels, Northern Ireland and Ireland last week, I welcomed the Prime Minister of Malta to Downing Street yesterday and I will be speaking to other EU 27 leaders today and throughout the week.

Statement by the Prime Minister and President Juncker 7 Feb 2019

Joint statement on behalf of the Prime Minister and President Juncker following a meeting in Brussels on 7 February 2019.

Prime Minister May and President Juncker have met today to review the next steps in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The talks were held in a spirit of working together to achieve the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, especially in the context of a shared determination to achieve a strong partnership for the future given the global challenges the EU and the UK face together in upholding open and fair trade, cooperation in the fight against climate change and terrorism and defending the rules-based international system.

The Prime Minister described the context in the UK Parliament, and the motivation behind last week’s vote in the House of Commons seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the Parliament.

President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal. President Juncker however expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration agreed by the EU27 and the UK in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. President Juncker drew attention to the fact that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU27.

The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council. The Prime Minister and the President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions.

PM speech in Belfast: 5 February 2019

Here is the speech Prime Minister Theresa May gave in Belfast on 5 February 2019.

I’m pleased to be back in Belfast today, with under 8 weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU I recognise that this is a crucial time for Northern Ireland. And ensuring that the unique needs of this part of the UK are met has been one of my chief priorities ever since I became Prime Minister.

Any border that weaves its way through farms and villages, bisects hundreds of roads and lanes, and which is crossed and re-crossed by thousands of people every day would pose a logistical challenge in the context of Brexit. But when you add to those geographical factors Northern Ireland’s complex history, the different traditions and identities that make up its community, and the long path to peace that the people of Northern Ireland have walked over the last forty years, the challenge is even greater.

Over the last two and half years, we have come a long way towards a solution that works for Northern Ireland and Ireland. We have agreed mutual protections for citizens’ rights, the maintenance of our common travel area, and set a framework for our future relationship that ensures tariff and quota-free trade and protects our close co-operation on security and law enforcement. But the UK Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement because of their concerns about the backstop, the legal protocol to prevent no hard border in the event our future relationship is not in place at the end of the implementation period.

PM statement to the House of Commons: 29 January 2019

Theresa May gave a statement to the House of Commons following votes on the amendments to the motion debated in the House of Commons on 29 January 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

A fortnight ago, this House clearly rejected the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration with just 202 Members voting in favour.

Tonight a majority of Honourable Members have said they would support a deal with changes to the backstop. Combined with measures to address concerns over Parliament’s role in the negotiation of the future relationship and commitments on workers’ rights, in law where need be, it is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.

We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. My colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House’s views.

As I said this afternoon, there is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy. But in contrast to a fortnight ago, this House has made it clear what it needs to approve a Withdrawal Agreement.

Many Honourable Members have said that the continuing protection of workers’ rights after Brexit is something that needs to be strengthened, and my Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business will intensify our work with Honourable Members from across the House and the trade unions this week.

And my Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will do the same on how we engage this House further in our approach to negotiating our future partnership with the EU.

As well as making clear what changes it needs to approve the Withdrawal agreement, the House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework.

I agree that we should not leave without a deal. However, simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it.

The Government will now redouble its efforts to get a deal that this House can support and to that end I want to invite my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Meriden, the Honourable Member for Birmingham Erdington, and all those that tabled amendments in opposition to No Deal to discuss how we can deliver that by securing a deal.

In light of the defeat of the Right Honourable Member the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment I again invite him to take up my offer of the meeting to see if we can find a way forward.

Mr Speaker, if this House can come together we can deliver the decision the British people took in June 2016, restore faith in our democracy and get on with building a country that works for everyone.

And as Prime Minister I will work with Members across this House to do just that.