Brexit live: MPs vote to extend Article 50
The move could delay Brexit beyond March 29.
MPs have voted to authorise Theresa May to seek an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiations, delaying Brexit beyond March 29.
They earlier decisively rejected an attempt to secure a second referendum, voting by 334 to 85 – a margin of 249 – against an amendment tabled by members of The Independent Group of former Labour and Tory MPs, who quit their parties in part because of differences over EU withdrawal.
And by the far narrower margin of 314-312, MPs voted down a cross-party bid for Parliament to seize control of the Brexit process.
Here’s the latest from Westminster:
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has described Labour’s position on a second referendum as “spectacular indecision”.
Corbyn offers People’s Vote support
Following the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his support for a People’s Vote.
He said: “Today I reiterate my conviction that a deal can be agreed based on our alternative plan that can command support across the House.
“I also reiterate our support for a People’s Vote – not as a political point-scoring exercise but as a realistic option to break the deadlock.”
On the rejection of a second referendum, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable told the Press Association: “Jeremy Corbyn didn’t follow through on his promise to support it.
“Clearly he has difficulties with the issue despite the support of Labour MPs and Labour voters.
“It is disappointing, but I think it will come back again in the same way Theresa May’s deal keeps coming back.”
Brexit process will be extended
MPs have approved a Government motion which aims to extend the Brexit process by 412 votes to 202, majority 210.
Benn on victory despite loss
Hilary Benn told the Press Association: “What we’ve won today – although we lost the vote on my amendment – is Stephen Barclay confirmed that the Government will bring this so-called neutral motion back by the 25th and we will have a chance to amend it.
“So, in effect, the slot to decide what we are going to do next as Parliament was won six days later than we were hoping, but that is as a result of putting down the amendment.”
Bryant withdraws amendment
Labour MP Chris Bryant withdrew his amendment to stop a third meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
MPs are now voting on the Government motion to seek an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiations.
Corbyn amendment defeated
MPs have rejected a Labour amendment which calls for a delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach” by 318 votes to 302, majority 16.
MP resigns as Watson aide
Labour MP Ruth Smeeth has resigned as an aide to deputy leader Tom Watson “in order to vote against a second referendum”.
Labour chiefs met backbenchers over conditional deal backing
The Labour leadership had a “constructive” meeting with backbench MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson – who have put forward a plan to back Theresa May’s deal on the condition it is put to a referendum.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “This afternoon Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Nick Brown and Keir Starmer had a useful and constructive discussion with Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson as part of Labour’s engagement with MPs across Parliament to find a practical solution to break the Brexit deadlock.”
The move comes after Labour MPs where whipped to abstain on an amendment calling for a second referendum.
Another narrow Government victory
MPs have rejected an amendment which seeks to allow the House of Commons to decide what kind of Brexit deal should be negotiated by 314 votes to 312, majority two.
Wollaston not giving up on second referendum
Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston said she would try again next week after her amendment calling for a new referendum was rejected.
Dr Wollaston told the Press Association: “The disappointing thing is that the Labour Party, having said they would support a people’s vote, clearly haven’t supported a people’s vote.
“But, we’ll be bringing it back next week.”
Barnier being patient
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he was awaiting the completion of votes in the House of Commons “with patience”, but believed the Withdrawal Agreement reached in November remains “the only one available”.
In a speech in Romania, Mr Barnier said: “What we need to move ahead is not a negative vote against no-deal. We need a constructive and positive vote.”
He added: “I will continue to exercise patience and calm and to remain respectful of the UK and its people and of its legislative and parliamentary procedures. We will be expecting and awaiting the votes in that spirit.”
Holding up a copy of his Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Barnier said: “If the UK still wants to leave the EU and wishes to leave it in an orderly fashion – which is what the Prime Minister said – then this treaty… is the only one available.”
Narrow loss in bid to add June date to Benn’s amendment
MPs voted against amending Labour MP Hilary Benn’s amendment to insert the date June 30 by 314 votes to 311 – majority three.
They are now voting on Mr Benn’s amendment.
SNP puts blame at Labour’s door
Reacting to the result on the Wollaston amendment, Ian Blackford the SNP leader in Westminster called Labour “absolutely spineless” and “the midwifes” to Theresa May’s Brexit.
The Independent Group’s Brexit spokeswoman Anna Soubry said: “This is a betrayal of Labour Party members and voters, Labour MPs, Labour’s conference policy and, most importantly, the British public.
“The Labour Party leadership are determined to deliver Brexit, which would harm our country.
“But The Independent Group will not give up. We will keep up the pressure for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
“We’ll keep holding the Government to account and providing the real opposition our country needs. The British people deserve the final say on Brexit.”
Wollaston amendment rejected
MPs have rejected an amendment which seeks to extend Article 50 to stage a second Brexit referendum by 334 votes to 85, majority 249.
ERG unlikely to back the votes
Members of the Brexit-backing European Research Group are expected to vote against all the amendments on Thursday evening, a source said.
Four amendments under consideration
Speaker John Bercow has selected four amendments – and one amendment to an amendment – for debate, but not all of them will necessarily be pushed to a vote.
– Second referendum
Tabled by Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston and backed by members of the new grouping, Liberal Democrats and a handful from other parties, this amendment seeks an Article 50 extension to stage a second referendum with Remain and Parliament’s preferred Brexit option on the ballot paper.
– Indicative votes
Tabled by a cross-party group led by Labour’s Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper and Tory Sir Oliver Letwin, this would allow Parliament to take control of business in the Commons on March 20 to force a series of indicative votes to establish MPs’ preferred option for Brexit.
An amendment to the “indicative votes” plan, tabled by Labour’s Lucy Powell, would limit to June 30 any extension of Brexit talks to discuss Parliament’s preferred option.
Labour’s amendment notes that Parliament has “decisively” rejected both Mrs May’s deal and no deal and calls for a delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.
– Block the “meaningful vote”
An amendment tabled by Labour’s Chris Bryant challenges Theresa May’s right under parliamentary rules to bring her Withdrawal Agreement back before the Commons for a third “meaningful vote”, after it was rejected by a majority of 230 in January and 149 this week.
The vote on Mrs May’s proposals will take place at the end of the sequence, with MPs voting on the PM’s motion “as amended” if any of the amendments have secured a majority.
Earlier, the US president gave his opinion on the Brexit process:
Ahead of the votes, the Independent Group of MPs are pushing ahead with a cross-party amendment calling for a new Brexit referendum despite expecting it to be voted down, sources said.
A Tig source said: “I think it would be an absolute travesty if we get to the end of this process and Parliament has been too spineless to actually press an amendment.
“We absolutely refute this idea that it is one shot. We will be bringing it every opportunity now.
“I am under no illusion, without unequivocal Labour Party support it cannot pass.
“I fully expect the Labour Party to feel the heat and to get round to backing it next week.”
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