Theresa May to offer Parliament indicative votes on Brexit options

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to present plans for Parliament to hold a series of indicative votes on different Brexit alternatives which include the Prime Minister’s deal; No Deal; a second referendum; revoking Article 50; a Canada-style free trade agreement; a customs union with the EU; and staying in the EU’s single market. This comes as an emergency Cabinet meeting will discuss the proposal this morning. May will make a statement to the Commons this afternoon and the Government will then put an amendable motion before the House on its future Brexit strategy.

A cross-party amendment sponsored by Labour MP Yvette Cooper has been tabled which would require the Government to set out a plan for leaving the EU with a deal, “including by seeking an extension to Article 50 to take account of any conclusions reached by the House.” Co-author of the Bill, Conservative MP Nick Boles, wrote in the Financial Times on Saturday, “The current impasse results directly from Mrs May’s total inability to build a consensus.” The voting on amendments to the Government’s motion is expected to take place around 10 p.m. tonight.

Separately, when asked about the prospect of a series of indicative votes, Chancellor Philip Hammond told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday programme, “One way or another, Parliament is going to have the opportunity this week to decide what it is in favour of and I hope it will take that opportunity, if it can’t get behind the Prime Minister’s deal, to say clearly and unambiguously what it can get behind.”

However, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the Andrew Marr show, “The clue’s in the name – it’s indicative votes. It is not of itself binding.” Barclay also said that if Parliament voted for the UK staying in the EU customs union or single market, “The vote itself would potentially collide with fundamental commitments the Government has given in their manifesto…Ultimately at its logical conclusion the risk of a General Election increases because you potentially have a situation where Parliament is instructing the Executive to do something that is counter to what it was elected to do.”

Elsewhere, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said this morning that MPs face the constraints of the manifestos they were elected upon, explaining, “I was elected, as 80 per cent of members were, to respect the referendum and leave the European Union…I was also elected on a manifesto that specifically said no single market and no customs union.”

Henry Newman: Labour MPs must forget ‘common market 2.0’ – and back May’s deal

In an op-ed for the Guardian, Open Europe’s Director Henry Newman writes, “So far, the Prime Minister has failed to convince more than three Labour MPs to back her deal. And yet there are many Labour parliamentarians who are publicly committed to respecting the referendum result and who oppose any move to a so-called people’s vote… Some of these MPs favour a close relationship with the EU, perhaps based on Norway’s membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). This ‘Norway’ or ‘Norway Plus’ option has been cleverly branded ‘common market 2.0’. But that’s a slogan, not an actual deal.” Newman continues, “The simple truth is that ‘common market 2.0’ is an aspiration not a destination… I accept that many Labour MPs are furious that May has failed to reach across the House of Commons to find consensus on Brexit,” adding, “But anger with May is not a good enough reason for voting down her deal.” Newman concludes, “MPs of all parties who want to see Brexit delivered in an orderly fashion should back this deal. What they need is the surety that the next stages of the negotiations will be handled in a way that brings Parliament and the country together around a consensus for our future.”

Elsewhere, Open Europe’s David Shiels writes in the Daily Telegraph, “Will the DUP back the Brexit deal? When MPs are asked to vote again on the Withdrawal Agreement next week, the party’s answer to this question may well decide the course of Brexit. The fate of Theresa May’s premiership depends on it.” Shiels adds, “Backing a Brexit deal is, therefore, a hard call for the DUP to make, but there are strong incentives for it to do so. The party needs to find a message that works in its pro-Brexit heartlands in Antrim, as well as in Remain constituencies elsewhere.” He concludes, “The DUP is capable of taking a big leap. But they do not want to be the first to leap, and want to make sure a majority of Brexiteers in Parliament are prepared to follow. Uncertainty over the Prime Minister’s future probably does not help. It may well be that the decision is taken out of the party’s hands – and that Parliament chooses a different way out of the Brexit conundrum.”

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