European Union (Withdrawal) Act – The Meaningful Vote

The final day of debate on the Meaningful Vote was held on 15 January 2019.

As a reminder, the motion being debated is:

That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title “Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community” and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title “Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom”.

In addition, the Speaker has selected a number of amendments to include as follows

(a), in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn;

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

(b), in the name of the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh);

(f), in the name of the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron).

If amendment (b) is agreed to, amendment (f) falls

The amendments will be put to a vote before the main vote takes place which is scheduled for around 7:00pm – the only amendment which actually put to a vote was (f)

Amendment proposed: (f): at end, add

“subject to changes being made in the Withdrawal Agreement and in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol so that the UK has the right to terminate the Protocol without having to secure the agreement of the EU.”

which was defeated by 24 votes in favour and 600 against.

The Meaningful Vote then followed, on the deal agreed between the Prime Minister and the EU, the result being 202 votes in favour and 432 against the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political Declaration, resulting in a defeat for the Government. In fact this result is the worst for any Government since the 1920s with a majority of 230 against the Government. In total 118 Conservative and 18 DUP MPs voted against the Government.

Following the defeat Theresa May stated:

…I can therefore confirm that if the official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. If, as happened before Christmas, the official Opposition decline to do so, we will on this occasion consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other Opposition parties should they put one forward …

This was followed by Jeremy Corbyn

…I therefore inform you, Mr Speaker, that I have now tabled a motion of no confidence in this Government, and I am pleased that that motion will be debated tomorrow so that this House can give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this Government and pass that motion of no confidence in the Government….

So the next step is for Parliament to spend time debating and ultimately voting on a Vote of Confidence in the Government – this is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 16 January 2019. It is highly likely that the Government will defeat the motion with rebel MP’s, both those in favour of Brexit and anti-Brexit Conservateive MPs, together with DUP MPs voting against the motion.

If the Governmment defeats the motion, Theresa May has committed to return to Parliament within 3 “sitting” days to present a new Brexit plan as the current proposal has been voted down. This should happen, at the latest, by Monday 21 January 2019.

So what next …