Government defeat! Cross Party amendment requiring MPs to consent to no deal preparations passes

Yvette Cooper’s cross-party amendment which ensures that the Government would have to get the explicit consent of Parliament for no deal expenditure passed in Parliament tonight. This amendment was signed by Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs.

I always like that moment in the Commons when the tellers line up in front of the Speaker. Those on the right are on the winning side. And if it’s the opposition MPs, you know that the Government has been defeated.

The margin was just 7 votes. 303-296.

There’s a bit of a  health warning with this, though. This doesn’t indicate how the vote on the draft withdrawal deal will go. The Tory Brexiteers would have voted with the Government and they oppose the deal. People like Nicky Morgan voted with the opposition and she will be supporting the deal. And, of course, you’ll have Labour Brexiteers voting with the Government.

If it has use, it’s about building relationships and trust across parties, amongst individual MPs which may help later.

Tom Brake said the Government must now rule out no deal:


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

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  • marcstevens 8th Jan '19 - 7:53pm

    The Lib Dems in concert with the Greens, SNP, Plaid and elements of Labour are now forming an effective opposition to the government getting its own way on a no deal outcome. Let’s hope this working partnership continues and into the next General Election.

  • Chris Bertram 8th Jan '19 - 8:24pm

    I note with satisfaction that all our 11 MPs voted for this amendment, as did Stephen Lloyd, who I trust will not be long out of Lib Dem colours.

  • Glad to see that Stephen Lloyd was also able to support this amendment!
    It is interesting to note the breakdown of Tory and Labour MPs who voted for and against. Whilst 20 Tory MPs voted for the amendment, only 3 hardline Brexit Labour MPs voted against. However, by my calculation, a further 15 Tory MPs and 25 Labour MPs abstained/did not vote – for reasons unknown!
    As regards the other parties, whilst all 10 DUP MPs voted with the Government (I.e. against the amendment), it is heartening that all 51 Lib Dem (11), SNP (35), Plaid Cymru (4) and Green (1) MPs voted for it.
    Although the margin of victory on this amendment was narrow (just 7 votes overall), as Caron notes, this is unlikely to accurately predict how next week’s vote on “the deal” will go. In that vote, unless anything radically changes between now and then, it seems that the Government can firmly rely on the votes of only about 200 Tory MPs (although possibly a few more will have been “softened up” by now), plus, at most, a handful of Labour rebels, the odd ‘Independent’ MP or two – and, still apparently quite unlikely, the 10 DUP members. What happens next, after that (almost certain) Government defeat, of course, remains a totally open question – and, in the meantime, there is no clear ‘Plan B’ which could yet command a HofC majority … and the clock continues its relentless countdown …

  • @ David Raw – I agree; effective cross-party cooperation is necessary, so let’s give credit where it’s due. According to my information (reported on The Guardian website), 229 out of a potential 257 Labour MPs actually voted for the amendment – so that, at least, should be welcomed.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '19 - 1:04am

    This vote was significant. It was a vote on an amendment to the Finance Bill. Think of British history. Parliament is basically a representative body constituted to vote money for the Government to go on governing. To defeat the Government on an aspect of a Finance Bill is therefore a decisive assertion of the will of Parliament to control the Executive. It was also apparently the first such defeat for 40 years, a rare event. This could be the beginning of the end for this Government’s exertion of power unapproved by its Parliament, and so ultimately perhaps the beginning of its own end.

  • Arnold Kiel 9th Jan '19 - 9:12am

    The good thing is that this victory will boost the morale of the reasonable majority of MPs, some of which remained on the sidelines. It diminished the chances of no-deal, and thereby fear-based support for May’s deal. More will come out for the more significant votes as they smell victory. The no-no-deal majority stands, is likely to grow, and has a good chance to eventually stop Brexit.

  • It seems that we are moving closer to a referendum. The party needs to have arguments ready about what the options should be. Most of all we need to be building an enthusiasm about the E.U. A good starting point would be the emails to members that we seem to be good at getting out. And how about asking for feedback and ideas rather than just asking for money?

  • Caron,
    This was a significant government defeat by a Labour amendmendment, supported by 229 Labour MPs but, in your entire article the only mention of Labour’s part is a negative comment about…”Labour Brexiteers voting with the Government”

    The only hope of changing government policy or removing this, increasingly right wing, government is with the Labour party. This site seems to spend more time criticising Labour than it does the Tories. After March there will still be a country riven by inequality, family and child poverty, Universal Credit. There will be funding/staffing problems in the NHS, in prisons, social care, etc, etc.

    In government we made things worse; however, could we not now highlight areas of commonality with Labour rather than ook for areas of difference (I note your article on our unity with Labour/SNP/Greens in Scotland failed to materialise)

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Jan '19 - 4:49pm

    Well done to Yvette Cooper. And also to Dominic Grieve for getting his amendment passed.

    It seems that our MPs are now asserting their right to some control over the Brexit debate and process. As indeed they should in a representative democracy.

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