Labour amendment to bring Brexit deal back to Commons fails

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Labour has failed in an attempt to stop Theresa May "running down the clock" to a no-deal Brexit, after MPs voted down the party's demand for the Prime Minister to bring her Withdrawal Agreement back to the Commons by February 27.

A Labour amendment, requiring the Government to stage a second "meaningful vote" on its Brexit deal by February 27 or give Parliament control over the next steps, was defeated by 322 to 306.

Ahead of the votes, Government ministers urged MPs to back Mrs May’s amendment, which asks MPs to declare support of her Brexit plan agreed on January 29 saying she would return to Brussels to secure concessions, arguing that defeat for the Prime Minister would undermine the UK's chances of securing those concessions on the backstop.

They also voted in January for a non-binding amendment to block EU withdrawal without an agreement.

But members of the European Research Group of Leave-backing Conservatives emerged from a last-minute meeting in a Westminster committee room to say that they would abstain.

SNP defeat

Opening the day's debate, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned that European leaders would be watching the evening's votes for "any sign that our resolve is weakening".

A Scottish National Party proposal to delay Brexit for three months beyond the scheduled date of March 29 was defeated by 315 to 93.

Pro-EU Conservative Anna Soubry indicated she would not force a vote on her cross-party amendment, which would have required the Government to publish its latest advice on the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Ms Soubry was offered a meeting with the effective deputy prime minister David Lidington to discuss which documents could be released.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told MPs that "deep down" he did not believe Mrs May was ready to take the UK out of Europe without a deal on March 29.

He maintained she was taking the Brexit debate to the wire in order to be able to confront MPs with a last-minute choice between her deal or no-deal.

He confirmed Labour will back a cross-party plan from backbencher Yvette Cooper - expected to go to a vote on February 27 - which would force the Government to conclude its deal by March 13 or allow MPs to vote on no-deal or a second referendum.

"It is obvious what the Prime Minister is up to - she is pretending to make progress while running down the clock," said Sir Keir.

"A non-update every other week to buy another two weeks of process, inching ever closer to the March 29 deadline in 43 days. We should not be fooled."