Brexit votes open thread

I’ve come home this evening with a very heavy heart. It’s more like the Spoilt Brat of Legislatures than the Mother of Parliaments, isn’t it? The debate this afternoon has been profoundly depressing, particularly the early stages which was more of a bunfight than anything else. Good job they weren’t debating anything absolutely essential to our existence, isn’t it?

There are only a few willing to talk about how the Emperor is stark naked.

While our lot are fighting the good fight inside, Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds is in Parliament Square:

On Facebook, I discover that several of my friends have received literature from Wetherspooons spouting nonsense about Brexit. There is a bit of me that is pleased that Tim Martin’s money will be wasted in Edinburgh.

Anyway, I’ve opened a bottle of red and am watching the events of the evening unfold.

Key votes will be on Yvette Cooper’s amendment to extend Article 50 for 9 months and Graham Brady’s to find some unicorns to patrol the Irish border.

It’s going to be a long night evening of votes – but there is some hope at the end. Layla Moran’s bill to repeal the Vagrancy Act will be debated when it’s all over.

So this is the Government’s motion:

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.

So far, so neutral.

MPs are currently voting on the Labour front bench amendment

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.”.

This will fall because the Tory remainers won’t vote for it.

And history is being made because Tulip Siddiq is making a proxy vote via a Labour whip, Vicky Foxcroft.

Corbyn’s amendment defeated 296-327.

Now voting on Ian Blackford’s SNP/Plaid amendment

Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “notes that the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and House of Commons all voted overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Minister’s deal; calls for the Government to seek an extension of the period specified under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union; agrees

a No Deal outcome should be ruled out; and recognises that if the UK is an equal partnership of nations, the 62 per cent vote to remain at the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 in Scotland should be respected and that the people of Scotland should not be taken out of the EU against their will.”.

Here’s our Vince earlier in the afternoon

SNP amendment lost 39-327

So we and Labour and all the other opposition parties other than the SNP abstained.

Now MPs are voting on Tory Dominic Grieve’s amendment to make Tuesday night Brexit night in the House of Commons with business in the control of MPs:

At end, add “and orders that on 12 and 26 February and 5, 12, 19 and 26 March 2019—
(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;
(b) a Motion in the name of the Chairman of Ways and Means “That this House has considered the United Kingdom’s departure from, and future relationship with, the European Union” shall stand as the first item of business;
(c) Standing Order No. 24B (Amendments to motions to consider specified matters) shall not apply to such motions;
(d) proceedings on the motion may continue for up to six and a half hours after its commencement, though opposed, and shall not be interrupted at the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) will not apply; and
(e) at the conclusion of those proceedings, the Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the motion, which shall include the questions on any amendments selected by the Speaker, which may then be moved.”.

This is where the Government’s 327 majority is threatened. Some Labour MPs are likely to vote against this and a few Tories will vote for it. First crunch vote of the night.

This is defeated by 301-321

We’ll need to see how that worked out.

The next vote is on Yvette Cooper’s amendment. This is really crunch time. It’s about MPs taking control of the parliamentary agenda from the Government:

At end, add “and is conscious of the serious risks arising for the United Kingdom from exit without a withdrawal agreement and political declaration and orders accordingly that—

(1) On 5 February 2019—

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

(b) a Business of the House Motion in connection with the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 3) Bill in the name of at least 10 Members, including at least four Members elected to the House as members of at least four different parties and at least two backers of that Bill shall stand as the first item of business;

(c) that motion may be proceeded with until any hour though opposed, shall not be interrupted at the moment of interruption, and, if under discussion when business is postponed, under the provisions of any standing order, may be resumed, though opposed, after the interruption of business; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) will not apply;

(d) at the conclusion of debate on that motion, the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that motion (including for the purposes of Standing Order No. 36(2) (Questions to be put following closure of debate)) shall include the questions on any amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; and

(e) the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 3) Bill shall stand as the first order of the day; and

(2) In respect of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 3) Bill, notices of Amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.

This would require the Government to seek an Article 50 extension if no deal had been agreed by 26 February.


Government wins 298-321

Now Rachel Reeve’s amendment:

This one, if passed, would seek an extension to article 50 of two years. If passed the Government could ignore it.

“and, in the event that the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 26 February 2019, requires the Prime Minister to seek
an extension to the period of two years specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union.”.

This one went down 322-290

Then it was Caroline Spelman’s turn:

and rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement anda Framework for the Future Relationship.”

No time limit.

And it won! 318-310

And then it was the Brady Unicorn Amendment:

At end, add “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.

Which passed. In complete contradiction to the previous amendment against no deal.


Not, as Theresa May tried to say, a majority of the House. Just the number of Conservative MPs. Except not all of them. And with the DUP and some Labour.

What a paradox of a night.

Labour MPs voting with the Government may well lead this country to its destruction.

And Vince’s take on the contradictory votes:

The House of Commons has given contradictory instructions, both ruling out ‘no deal’ and setting the Government on a collision course with the EU, ramping up the chances of no deal.

“Willing the ends but not the means for preventing no deal gets us nowhere.

“Parliament remains effectively deadlocked. The only way forward is a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Tom Brake added:

It is clear from votes in the House of Commons that divisions in the Labour Party are as deep as they are with the Tories.

“Labour MPs who sided with the Conservatives have become handmaids to a Tory Brexit. As a result, a no-deal Brexit is a step closer. People will be worried about what the future holds.

“The best way out of this mess is to go back to the people and give them a final say on Brexit. That is what the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for with all our soul and heart.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Well the mother of parliaments is proving she has gone senile. Dreaming of past glories the idiots vote for cake and more cake with cake to follow. We are I fear going to enter the “School of experience” many fools will get a rude awakening, but I have to go on record they will get little sympathy from me. So to any Brexiteers, when bad things happen, tis your fault expect no sympathy or respect from me ( and I won’t be the only one thinking that).

  • Paul Barker 29th Jan '19 - 8:15pm

    The prospect of No Deal now look much greater, I see The Pound has fallen already.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Jan '19 - 8:29pm

    “Graham Brady’s [amendment] to find some unicorns to patrol the Irish border”

    – Thank you for that Caron. A rare and much-needed laugh out loud. 😀

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Jan '19 - 8:31pm

    (Though my wife asks, Shouldn’t it be leprechauns?)

  • Paul Barker 29th Jan '19 - 8:51pm

    Commons votes to waste another 2 Weeks of the 8 left.

  • Commons votes to put gun to country’s head, then turns to EU and says “drop the backstop or we pull the trigger”.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 29th Jan '19 - 9:32pm

    @davidraw – it’s not enforceable.

  • Vince’s speech is good here. Worth watching to see a rare voice of commonsense.
    Our parliamentary party has served us well on Brexit. I would have preferred Vince to be a bit more energetic perhaps, but he is what he is, and the main thing is he has stood by the line and fought for it consistently. Tom Brake also has been very effective, with good support in the media battle particularly from Jo, Layla and Christine. Honourable mention for Tim Farron too, who made the right decision (People’s Vote) as far back as 2016 when it was not popular, and also to Norman Lamb for staying in line despite the pressure of a heavily Leave constituency.
    I know we are all frustrated that the party doesn’t get more publicity, but as a parliamentary group our MPs have done well and we can be proud of them.

  • No deal is where this will end. The Lib Dems must stop being the remain obsessive party and focus on developing innovative, credible domestic policies and spend this time identifying charasmatic and inspirational individuals to push them and seek to win winnable seats at the next election. We cannot allow another Richmond Park situation, and the deselection of a number of our present MPs should not be ruled out.

  • Micheal,
    If no deal happens, we won’t be obsessed with “remain” we will be obsessed with trying to mitigate the disaster that is upon us. The consequences of Brexit will live with us for decades, it isn’t a football match that come April is behind us, the consequences will run for years. As to deselect MPs why, what have they done to upset you, I can think of none who would warrant that, is it their ” obsession” with Brexit that offends you, well that is and will be the biggest poltical issue for years to come.

  • Regarding May’s ‘win’; when even the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn reports that Theresa May’s capitulation to Tory hardliners was “total” and even includes their requests that she shakeup her Brexit negotiating team. He reports that she will welcome on board Julian Braithwaite, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva, and Crawford Falconer, the chief trade negotiation adviser at the Department for International Trade. They are described as “two seasoned negotiators”, which does make you wonder why they weren’t in the team to begin with……………

    The support from hardliners in this vote, and May’s promise of renegotiation, has IMO, only one purpose “To shift the blame for the seemingly inevitable crash out onto the EU”
    As for the rest of the world; what they will see is that a government who signed up to an agreement ‘welshed’ on their written promise. We have just become a pariah nation for future trade deals.

    BTW…As DR writes, ” Layla Moran was absolutely stonkingly brilliant in pressing the case with the Government minister to decriminalise the 1824 Vagrancy Act…

  • Peter Martin 30th Jan '19 - 9:49am

    @ Martin,

    You’re right that the Backstop should never have been more than “pencilled in” to any withdrawal agreement. In fact I’d probably say the same about the entire document. I’m not sure what the EU negotiators understood about the British political process, but as educated people they should have known that, ultimately, whatever was written down had to be ratified by Parliament. They probably aren’t used to that level of democracy, though, so it would have been a good idea to have reminded them by giving them a quick lesson in the workings of British government.

    Problems like the backstop have only arisen because, at the EU’s insistence, there hasn’t been any progress towards a trade agreement. If we knew how trade would operate across our borders we would be in a better position to address the technical problems of what may or may not arise at the crossings. There won’t be any “certainty” until all the details are settled.

  • David Becket 30th Jan '19 - 10:33am

    In capitulating to the Rees Moggs of this world May has shown that her only interest is preserving the Tory party at the expense of the country and that her major skill is kicking the can down the road. She is not fit to be prime minister, though neither is Corbyn fit to be leader of the opposition. If anybody can be described as a traitor it is May. Yes she is likely to lead this country into a disastrous No Deal and she has shown to the world that this country is not a reliable country to do deals with, any deal can be wrecked by a group of rabid extremists.
    To those who claim the EU does not understand us, the Tories have never understood the EU.
    The only good thing that might come out of this is the end of the Tory party, and it cannot come soon enough.

  • Bless Peter, well that didn’t take long for you to pop up and blame the EU. We are teaching them democracy are we, well they are teaching us the realities of power. Have you asked your family how they are being effected by this shambles you voted for, I rather doubt you have after all facts and Brexiteers, O sorry your a Lexiteer seldom mix.

    As you claim to be an economist of sorts, perhaps you should investigate

    The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions

    it might give you a clue why the Guardian reports

    Archer writes:

    The ongoing slowdown in net unsecured consumer credit growth to a 4-year low in December reinforces belief that heightened uncertainties focused on Brexit are likely to weigh down on the economy in the near term at least. Significantly, the latest Bank of England credit conditions survey showed lenders expect the demand for unsecured consumer credit to fall in the first quarter of 2019 at the fastest rate since records began in 2007.
    Heightened concerns over Brexit and the economic outlook, the very low household savings ratio and the prospect of gradual interest rate rises over the coming months are likely to limit consumer willingness to borrow.
    Meanwhile, lenders have become more careful about advancing unsecured credit – the fourth quarter of 2018 saw lenders further reduce the amount of unsecured credit available to households and again tighten lending standards.

    And as an economist knows, lack of demand leads to loss of tax revenues, which makes it that much harder to pay for the services you rely on.

  • The whole truth about the backstop: 13 minutes well spent with Sabine Weyand

  • Sue Sutherland 30th Jan '19 - 11:11am

    Last night wasn’t about Brexit at all. I was about reuniting the Tory party. Teresa May promised to go back to Brussels, Brady wants different unspecified changes to the back stop and Spelman wants there to be no deal (unenforceable). So they can vote for pie in the sky and be united apart from a few brave people who voted against the government. As an added bonus when it all falls apart they can blame the EU as expats says. No wonder they all looked so disgustingly pleased with themselves.

  • Peter Martin 30th Jan '19 - 11:55am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    Has Sabine Weyland ever been elected to anything in her life? I don’t think so. She’s just another unelected EU beauracrat. So even though I don’t support Ms May’s conseravtives, when it comes to choosing sides, I’d always have to go with those who have been elected rather than those who haven’t.

    I suspect it’s the opposite way around with you.

    Sabine Weyland is listed as one of the ten most influential women in Brussels. I suspect that this is an underestimate. It illustrates the reason why the EU, as it is, is doomed to fail. If it is run by the unelected, who in many cases are also the unelectable, then sooner or later they will be toppled by popular discontent. Maybe sooner if the events in France continue as they are.

    @ Frankie,

    It looks like Brexit is causing a slump in Germany too!

    The national economy of the UK isn’t like a household so the last sentence of your comment of 10:35am isn’t correct.

  • Peter Martin,

    sorry, I totally forgot: she is an expert. Please disregard anything she said.

  • Sue Sutherland’s assessment is quite accurate – except, of course, that the cross-party Spelman/Dromey amendment (albeit unenforceable) was *against* leaving with no deal, although it clearly does not take it off the table as the Cooper amendment would have done.

    In the meantime, all that the Brady amendment has achieved is to lend Theresa May temporary and conditional support from the ERG/DUP to put the country through another 2 weeks of purgatory while she seeks illusory changes to the “backstop”, based on previously dismissed and nebulous “alternative arrangements”, that are clearly undeliverable.

    When the Govt comes back to the HoC for the next parliamentary showdown on 14 Feb (or whenever), it will therefore be Groundhog Day all over again – and the impasse will continue, as the clock runs down to “no deal”, until/unless the reality dawns that there is *still* no majority for the PM’s deal, even with any cosmetic “tweaks” she may achieve. Perhaps the HoC might *finally then* vote to decisively take back control of the Brexit process and force HMG to apply for extension of Article 50 – to give MPs more time to form a cross-party majority in support of an alternative, so-called “soft Brexit”, compromise deal (not my first preference) and/or another referendum with the option to remain in the EU.

  • Peter Martin 30th Jan '19 - 1:02pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    She’s an expert in delivering a message which fits in with what her EU bosses require of her. If she had even a few ideas of her own which were even slightly original she wouldn’t be where she is.

    It isn’t a formula which can lead to human progress. We’d all have to just accept what the establishment said on the grounds that their top people were the experts. You can probably think of your own examples from history. Scientific progress didn’t start to be made because of the Establishment of the time.

  • Whether you agree with what is going on or not it does look objectively as if Mrs May will get her bill one way or the other.

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Jan '19 - 12:35am

    Peter Martin
    “Sabine Weyland is listed as one of the ten most influential women in Brussels. I suspect that this is an underestimate. It illustrates the reason why the EU, as it is, is doomed to fail. If it is run by the unelected, who in many cases are also the unelectable, then sooner or later they will be toppled by popular discontent.” (30th Jan ’19 – 11:55am)
    “She’s an expert in delivering a message which fits in with what her EU bosses require of her. If she had even a few ideas of her own which were even slightly original she wouldn’t be where she is.” (30th Jan ’19 – 1:02pm)

    Do make up your mind.

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