Belfast Telegraph

MPs to vote on four alternative Brexit plans in attempt to find way forward

Speaker John Bercow (House of Commons/PA)
Speaker John Bercow (House of Commons/PA)

MPs will consider four options as alternative plans for Brexit on Monday night.

Speaker John Bercow confirmed the motions he had selected in the House of Commons on Monday evening.

MPs will indicate which of the options they would be willing to support in a series of indicative votes.

Although the votes are non-binding they could indicate a Brexit path that MPs would be willing to back after the repeated rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal deal.

Indicative votes held last week failed to produce a majority for the any of the suggested plans to take forward the Brexit process.

The Government has been opposed to the move for MPs to take control of the order of business.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said that while the Government would be listening, they were "extremely concerned" with the "unprecendented change to parliamentary procedure.

She confirmed the Government would not be supporting any of the motions under consideration.

A former soldier who has served in Northern Ireland, the Conservative MP Richard Drax made an apology in the Commons after backing Theresa May's deal.

"I made the wrong call on Friday," he said.

"I do not feel I have misled the House, but I do feel I have not been true to myself.

"Although doing what I believed to be in the country's best interests at that moment in time, I quickly realised that I should not have voted with the Government on Friday afternoon."

He apologised to his "friends and colleagues in the DUP", and said the Government's deal could have risked the "integrity" of the country.

Mr Drax said: "The withdrawal agreement as it stands must never ever see the light of day again."

He added: "Spring is here. Time for a new start for us all. Let's take our country back in 11 days' time and fulfil our honourable duty."

He added: "If the Prime Minister cannot commit to taking us out of the EU on the 12th of April, she must resign immediately. This is no longer about leave or remain. That was decided in 2016. This is about the future of our great country."

MPs will vote on the following motions on Monday night:

Motion C: Customs union - Proposer: Ken Clarke, Conservative

This option would see the government commit to negotiating "a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU" as part of any Brexit deal. This arrangement would give the UK a closer trading relationship with the EU and reduce the need for checks at the Irish border although not all.

However, it would prevent the UK striking independent trade deals with other countries, and has previously been ruled out by the Prime Minister.  A version of this proposal was rejected last week by MPs, although by just six votes.

Motion D: 'Common Market 2.0' - Proposer: Nick Boles, Conservative

This proposal would mean joining the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area, with countries such as Norway. It means the UK would remain part of the EU single market and would retain freedom of movement, so British citizens would keep the right to live and work in the EU and vice-versa. Last week 188 MPs voted for this plan and 283 voted against.

Motion E: Confirmatory public vote - Proposers: Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, Labour

This gives the public a vote to approve any Brexit deal passed by Parliament, before it can be implemented.

Tabled last time by Labour former minister Dame Margaret Beckett, this option won the highest number of votes, with 268 MPs for and 295 against.

Motion G: Parliamentary supremacy - Proposer: Joanna Cherry, Scottish National Party

This option offers a series of steps to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal. First, it requires the government to seek an extension if a deal has not been agreed two days before the deadline for leaving.

If the EU does not agree to an extension, on the day before the UK was due to leave, MPs would be asked to choose between a no-deal Brexit or revoking Article 50 to stop Brexit altogether.

In the event of revoking Article 50, an inquiry would be held to find out what type of future relationship with the EU could command majority support in the UK and be acceptable to Brussels.

MPs previously voted against a proposal to cancel Brexit by Joanna Cherry, but have not considered this plan before.

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