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Parliament’s Recess in February Cancelled

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Andrea Leadsom today announced that parliament’s week-long recess in February has been cancelled.

The House of Commons was expected to finish at the end of business on February 14 before returning on February 25. Speaking in the House of Commons on 31 January 2019, Ms Leadsom said

The House will know that recess dates are always announced subject to the progress of business. In this unique session of Parliament and in light of the significant decisions taken by the House this week, it is only right that I give the House notice that there are currently no plans to bring forward a motion to agree dates for the February recess and that the House may therefore need to continue to sit to make progress on the key business before the House.

Brexit – Plenary session of the European Parliament 30 Jan 2019

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30 January 2019: Speeches by President Juncker and Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier at the Plenary session of the European Parliament on the occasion of the debate on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU

Speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker

Mr President,

Honourable Members,

In less than 60 days, the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union. This is a bad decision, as I find.

Even as the Commission has defended the interests of the European Union, this spirit of respect and friendship has accompanied us at every step in these negotiations. The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration agreed by all 27 Leaders and the United Kingdom government is the result of that. The Withdrawal Agreement remains the best and only deal possible.

The European Union said so in November. We said so in December. We said so after the first meaningful vote in the Commons in January. The debate and votes in the House of Commons yesterday do not change that. The Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated.

Both sides have said loud and clear that there can be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland. No slipping back into darker times past. I believe the Prime Minister’s personal commitment on this point. But I also believe that we need a safety net that secures us against this risk. We have no incentive nor desire to use the safety net. But at the same time, no safety net can ever truly be safe if it can just be removed at any time.

Sometimes, from time to time, I have the impression that some hope that the 26 other countries will abandon the backstop and so Ireland at the last minute. But this is not a game. And neither is it a simple bilateral issue. It goes to the heart of what being a member of the European Union means. Ireland’s border is Europe’s border – and it is our Union’s priority.

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.

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.

Brexit Debate 29 January 2019 – Amendments #3

The final list of amendments submitted for consideration during the Brexit Debate scheduled for 29 January 2019. The actual amendments, which will be selected for a vote, will be decided by the Speaker (John Bercow)

Summary Agenda and Order of Business

Order Paper

3. SECTION 13 (4) OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (WITHDRAWAL) ACT 2018

Until 7.00pm (if the Business of the House Motion is agreed to)

The Prime Minister

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.


Amendment (a)

Jeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Emily Thornberry
John McDonnell
Ms Diane Abbott
Mr Nicholas Brown

Alex Sobel Stephen Morgan Seema Malhotra Hilary Benn Matt Western Rachel Reeves Helen Goodman Liz McInnes Peter Kyle Stephen Doughty Imran Hussain Barry Gardiner Anna McMorrin Wayne David Mr Paul Sweeney Lloyd Russell-Moyle Rushanara Ali Catherine McKinnell Emma Reynolds Andy Slaughter Ms Karen Buck Mary Creagh Stella Creasy Lilian Greenwood Wes Streeting Bill Esterson Helen Hayes Stephen Twigg Phil Wilson Stephen Timms Ian Murray Preet Kaur Gill Geraint Davies Ruth George Mr David Lammy Lesley Laird Danielle Rowley Darren Jones Kate Green Daniel Zeichner Kerry McCarthy Owen Smith Anna Turley Mr Clive Betts Dr Rupa Huq Ged Killen Graham P Jones Catherine West Martin Whitfield Joan Ryan Siobhain McDonagh Rachael Maskell Jo Stevens Marsha De Cordova Mr George Howarth Gareth Thomas Clive Lewis Sandy Martin Kate Osamor Meg Hillier Matt Rodda

Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “requires ministers to secure sufficient time
for the UK Parliament to consider and vote on options to prevent the UK leaving
the EU without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, and that
those options should include:

(i) Negotiating changes to the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political
Declaration so as to secure a permanent customs union with the EU,
a strong relationship with the single market underpinned by shared
institutions and obligations, and dynamic alignment on rights and
standards, in order to command a majority in the House of Commons;

(ii) Legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has
commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons.”.

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