The Valentine’s Day Brexit proposals British MPs will vote on
A look at Theresa May’s main motion and the amendments that have been selected
Britain’s Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay speaking in the House of Commons in London on February 14th, 2019, ahead of a vote on amendments to the Brexit withdrawal bill. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has put a new motion before her parliament that effectively asks parliament to allow her to continue negotiating to seek changes to the backstop. MPs are permitted to amend the motion, which will be voted on on Thursday.
This is the second time May has submitted an amendable parliamentary motion after the defeat of her Brexit deal. In January, MPs successfully amended the motion twice.
The first amendment, supported by the government, was spearheaded by the Tory MP Sir Graham Brady, and called for the government to seek “alternative arrangements” to replace the Northern Ireland backstop.
The second came from Dame Caroline Spelman, and was a defeat for the government backed by rebel Tory MPs, which said the House of Commons rejected the possibility of no deal.
But several high-profile amendments were lost, including one by Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles that would have paved the way for legislation to extend article 50. Both Cooper and Boles have said they do not intend to bring their amendment back until February 27th, when May has promised the next update will be tabled.
Here’s a look at the UK prime minister’s main motion and the amendments that have been selected by the Speaker.
Theresa May’s motion
Although bland at first glance, the motion could set the prime minister on a collision course with the hard Eurosceptics in her party. It says negotiations to come to a compromise on the backstop are continuing and “reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU expressed by this house on 29th January 2019”.
That means MPs are voting to accept both the Brady and Spelman amendments - and members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group do not want to vote to accept the latter. That would effectively mean they had accepted that parliament was against leaving with no deal, when many of their faction believe it is a viable option.
Labour’s amendment to force another vote
The Labour frontbench, including Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer, have tabled an amendment that would force the prime minister to bring her deal back to the House of Commons or table another amendable motion by February 27th, just over a month before the UK is due to leave the EU.
The motion may have little material effect: May has already committed to bringing another motion before this date if no new deal has been reached.
The SNP’s amendment to revoke article 50
The amendment by the Scottish nationalists calls on the government simply to stop Brexit by withdrawing notification of departure.
Unusually, the amendment has also been signed by a Labour backbencher Janet Daby, from the very pro-remain Lewisham East seat.
An amendment to force the release of no-deal cabinet briefings
The amendment tabled by leading remainers the Conservative Anna Soubry and Labour’s Chuka Umunna demands that the government publish “the most recent official briefing document” which has been given to cabinet ministers on the implications of no deal on business and trade. If the amendment was passed, the document would have to be published within seven days.