Brexit Delay Votes: What Are MPs Voting On And What Does It Mean For Brexit?

14 March 2019, 14:08 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

MPs are voting on whether to extend Article 50 following yesterday's rejection of a no-deal Brexit. This is everything you need to know about the key Brexit votes in Parliament.

Despite Theresa May whipping her MPs to vote against yesterday's amendment to avoid leaving without a deal "under any circumstances, the motion still passed 321 votes to 278 with a number of cabinet members ignoring a three-line whip to abstain.

That means today, Parliament will vote on whether we should extend Article 50. But Speaker John Bercow has allowed four amendments to be voted on, including one for a People's Vote.

What are MPs voting on tonight?

The main motion on the House of Commons tonight is voting to extend Article 50.

The official wording of the motion is:

This House:
(1) notes the resolutions of the House of 12 and 13 March, and accordingly agrees that the Government will seek to agree with the European Union an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3);

(2) agrees that, if the House has 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 20 March 2019, then the Government will seek to agree with the European Union a one-off extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) for a period ending on 30 June 2019 for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation;

(3) notes that, if the House 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 20 March 2019, then it is highly likely that the European Council at its meeting the following day would require a clear purpose for any extension, not least to determine its length, and that any extension beyond 30 June 2019 would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019.

In essence, it is saying we would extend Article 50 for a short period if they agree on her deal in a third meaningful vote before next Wednesday.

But if the deal is defeated yet again, the government will then seek a long extension into 2020, which would require the UK to take part in the European Elections in May.

MPs will be voting on four amendments tonight, as well as the main motion
MPs will be voting on four amendments tonight, as well as the main motion. Picture: PA

What amendments have been selected?

MPs will be voting on four amendments tonight, in addition to the main motion. These are:

Amendment (e) – Labour frontbench **this amendment was rejected by MPs**
This amendment rejects the PM’s deal and the idea of leaving without a deal. It also calls for an extension to Brexit talks to “provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.

Amendment (h) – Cross-party Remainers **this amendment was rejected by MPs**
This amendment requests an extension of Article 50 in order to have another referendum.

Amendment (i) – Benn/Cooper **this amendment was rejected by MPs**
This amendment, which has lots of cross party support, would allow MPs to take control of parliamentary business next Wednesday (20 March). They would use the time to debate a Brexit motion that could lead to Parliament holding a series of indicative votes on different Brexit options, possibly the following week.

Amendment (j) – Bryant/Brake **MPs did not vote on this amendment**
This amendment orders the government not to put its Brexit deal to another vote.

Which Brexit amendments could win tonight?

LBC's Political Editor Theo Usherwood thinks Amendment (i), which allows Parliament to take control of the Brexit process, is the most likely to pass.

He said: "This is gaining traction today and is likely to pass because Labour have indicated that they will support it and it has the support of a rump of moderate Conservative and crossparty MPs.

"In effect, from next Wednesday, it would hand the government's legislative time in the House of Commons to MPs to hold a series of indicative votes on what they would support.

"The government are terrified of this because it would take Brexit out of their hands.

"The fear would be then that Labour team up with those moderate MPs to support a much softer Brexit - a permanent customs union, a much closer relationship to the single market. What has become known as the Norway option. That's what the government doesn't want.

"So the government is saying to the Brexiters in her own party, if you don't support the meaningful vote next week, then we are going to see Brexit delayed and possibly no Brexit at all. Theresa May is desperate to hold on to this leverage."

Will Theresa May suffer a third consecutive bad night in Parliament?
Will Theresa May suffer a third consecutive bad night in Parliament? Picture: PA

Will MPs back a second referendum?

Sarah Wollaston from the Independent Group has tabled an amendment calling for a delay to Brexit to give time to hold a People's Vote.

This is the first time the idea of a second referendum has been floated in the House of Commons and while it has cross-party support, it is not expected to pass.

Indeed, People's Vote campaigner Alastair Campbell pointed out: "It's wrong to press the People's Vote amendment today when the issue is extension. I think wrong time and I fear the wrong reasons.

"The People's Vote is a possible solution to the current crisis, not option within it. There are more People's Vote opportunities ahead."

What time are tonight's Brexit votes?

Voting will start at 5pm this afternoon. The result of the results of the amendments will come first, in letter order, starting at around 5.15pm.

The result of the main motion will be announced at around 6:15pm.

How long could Brexit be delayed for?

If MPs vote to extend Article 50, which is likely due to the short length of time until we're due to leave on 29th March, the question is for how long.

That will come down to whether they support Theresa May's third meaningful vote next week. If that passes, there will be a short extension until the end of May to give enough time for the relevant legislation to be passed.

If they defeat it yet again, Mrs May said the EU would seek a lengthy extension, likely to be until the end of 2020.

However, this will also depend on which amendments get support tonight.

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