PA have produced this very helpful summary of the key amendments MPs are likely to vote on tonight…
This apparently innocuous motion asks the House to welcome Ms May’s statement on Tuesday, setting out progress in Brexit talks, note that talks on the Irish backstop are “ongoing” and “reiterate its support” for the approach to negotiations agreed the last time MPs voted, on 29 Janaury. The problem for the government is that MPs voted that day not only to authorise the PM to go back to Brussels and seek a replacement for the controversial Irish backstop, but also for a non-binding motion which would rule out a no-deal outcome. Leave-supporting backbenchers from the European Research Group fear that this would effectively mean signing up to a bar on no-deal.
Tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and his frontbench, this would require the government to either call a vote on its withdrawal plan by 27 February or hand control to Parliament to decide the next steps. Liberal Democrats have tacked on their own amendment to this proposal, calling for a second referendum “as endorsed by the Labour Party conference”.
A cross-party amendment tabled by the Father of the House, veteran Tory europhile Kenneth Clarke, would allow MPs to vote on their preferred Brexit outcome. Any Brexit option which secures the signatures of 50 or more MPs would be included on a ballot paper, and MPs would be asked to rank them in order of preference. Using an alternative vote system, the least popular option would be excluded and second-preference votes redistributed until one outcome has more than half the votes. There would then be a vote in the Commons on this option. This proposal has the backing of senior Labour backbenchers including Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey as well as Tory Remainers Dominc Grieve and Anna Soubry.
Revoke Article 50
Tabled by the Scottish National Party’s Angus MacNeil and backed by Mr Clarke, this amendment calls on the government to revoke the letter informing the European Council of the UK’s intention to leave the EU under Article 50 of the treaties, thus ending the Brexit process and allowing Britain to remain a member of the EU.
Publish the papers
This amendment – backed by 60 critics of Brexit from across the House – instructs the Government to publish its most recent official briefings on the implications of a no-deal Brexit for business and trade. Tablers Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna believe the papers presented to Cabinet paint a chilling picture of the damage which no-deal will do.
This calls for a series of votes on 26 February on various Brexit options including the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement, no-deal, renegotiation of the backstop, a Canada-style deal, Norway-style membership of the EEA and a second referendum. If only one option wins a majority, Ms May would be required to ask for an extension to Article 50 beyond its March 29 deadline to pursue that outcome. If two or more won majorities, the PM would be required to hold a public vote on those options. If none commanded a majority of MPs, Mss May would have to call a second referendum with the options of her deal or Remain. Tabled by Conservative Remainer Sarah Wollaston, the proposal has backing from opponents of Brexit across the House.
Plaid Cymru option
Backed by the Welsh nationalist party’s four MPs, this requires the Government to extend Article 50 to provide time for a referendum on Ms May’s deal or Remain. If no extension is allowed by the EU, the government would be required to commit itself to a referendum at the end of the transition period in 2021 on whether the UK should rejoin the EU.
An amendment signed by a small group of Labour and Plaid MPs, and tabled by Swansea West’s Geraint Davies, would require an extension of Article 50 and a commitment from the PM to seek a deal – subject to ratification in a referendum – which leaves the option open for future governments to adopt Labour’s current vision for post-Brexit relations with the EU, including a customs union and close alignment with the single market.
Tabled by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, this would require the government to negotiate an extension of at least three months to the Article 50 process.
Liberal Democrat amendment
Liberal Democrats led by Sir Vince Cable are proposing an extension to Article 50 beyond March 29 to allow time for a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper.
Tabled by Labour backbencher Roger Godsiff, this would require any withdrawal agreement approved by Parliament to be put to the public in a referendum. The ballot paper would have three options – to accept the agreement, leave with no deal or remain in the EU – and voters would be asked to rank them in order of preference under the alternative vote system.