Dominic Grieve’s amendment saves us from an uncomfortable Christmas

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Amongst last Tuesday’s excitement of Theresa May attempting a “Charles the First”, it was easy to miss the significance of Dominic Grieve’s Brexit amendment:
With the government seemingly heading towards a defeat for May’s deal, there was concern that in such a scenario, there would be a bit of an impasse, with the government in the driving seat. Grieve’s amendment means that Parliament will have the power to say what happens next. As the Guardian explains:

Under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Act, the government will have 21 days to come back to parliament with a motion, setting out what it plans to do.

Grieve’s amendment, which is backed by the shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, is aimed at ensuring any such motion can be amended by MPs.

They hope this will allow parliament to express its support for alternative approaches – and prevent the government either hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit without the backing of MPs, or imposing a plan B of its own devising.

A proviso should be stated. As the Clerk of the House of Commons recently clarified, only laws passed by Parliament have to be followed by the government. Motions do not have to be followed by the government.

That said, it is a relief that there is more of process in the event of May’s deal failing in Parliament. As Rafael Behr wrote in the Guardian, the amendment:

…reduces (but does not eliminate) the risk of Britain leaping off the Brexit cliff without a parachute.

Dominic Grieve’s amendment was backed by an interesting assortment of Conservative MPs, such as Sir Nicholas Soames, Richard Benyon, Oliver Letwin, Damian Green and Michael Fallon. They are far from being “the normal suspects”.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is currently taking a break from his role as one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • David Becket 8th Dec '18 - 1:04pm

    Where was a Lib Dem supporter? AWOL!!

  • Yeovil Yokel 8th Dec '18 - 3:14pm

    Thanks for posting that list, Paul, all 12 Lib Dem MPs’ names are there.

  • Glad to note that our MPs all voted in the ‘Ayes’ Lobby (even Stephen Lloyd on this occasion!) – but why is there not a single Lib Dem on the list of the amendment’s proposers when this does include not only Conservative and Labour MPs, but also SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green members?

    If we are serious about helping to secure a People’s Vote/further referendum, then our MPs need to work with others on a properly coordinated cross-party basis in order to use any parliamentary opportunities that may be open to us. The issues at stake are too important for narrow party politics.

  • Yeovil Yokel 8th Dec '18 - 6:22pm

    I’ve recently discovered a fondness for lawyers.

  • Peter Hirst 10th Dec '18 - 3:07pm

    If parliament now dictates what happens, we have to trust it and that leaves everything in the air though better than the government in control. It all goes for a hasty decision and I’m against that. We need time for reflection, further negotiation and another referendum. And it’s Christmas.

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