Parliament voted last night on a large amount of amendments to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. This is part of the process following the record defeat of the PM’s deal two weeks ago.
As I’ve said before, my view is we should accept the result of the referendum and then negotiate a trade deal which gives us a close economic relationship with Europe, including a new Customs Union. This is to ensure supply chains aren’t disrupted and as few jobs and tax revenues as possible are lost. I don’t believe the potential benefits of unilateral trade deals with the US and others justify the rupture that not having this would cause. In addition, I will never vote for or accept a ‘no deal’ exit which would severely hike food prices and disrupt the supply of goods.
At present, the PM’s deal gives no reassurance as to the future relationship and includes provisions under the ‘backstop arrangements’ which would be the worst of all worlds. This is why it lost so heavily two weeks ago.
There were seven amendments last night. I voted:
- FOR – Labour’s amendment (a). This was in favour of the close relationship described above, saying the PM should negotiate on these lines. It also left the door open for a second referendum if she didn’t do this. A second referendum is not my personal position and I think one is unlikely, but on the whole this amendment reflects for me the best way out of the impasse we are in. THIS WAS DEFEATED.
- Abstained – SNP amendment (o). This was the usual stuff from the SNP, effectively saying Scotland shouldn’t be forced to leave the EU against its will and should become independent instead. THIS WAS DEFEATED.
- FOR – Dominic Grieve’s amendment (g). A bit technical but this would have established a new procedure to let Parliament decide what options it did support in the event the Deal still didn’t pass. THIS WAS DEFEATED BY 20 VOTES, 301-321.
- FOR – Yvette Cooper’s amendment (b). In my view the most important one of the night. It would have allowed Parliament to request an extension to Article 50 for a small amount of time if a deal wasn’t done, effectively taking no deal off the table as the default position. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS WAS ALSO DEFEATED.
- FOR – Rachel Reeves’ amendment (j). This would extend article 50 if we haven’t got a deal approved by 26 February, and was quite similar to the one above. IT ALSO LOST.
- FOR- Caroline Spelman’s amendment (i). This literally said ‘Let’s not have No Deal’. IT WON, 318-310, THOUGH UNLIKE THE TWO AMENDMENTS ABOVE IT DIDN’T PROPOSE ANY MEANS TO ENSURE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN.
- AGAINST – Graham Brady’s amendment 👎. This said we should ‘renegotiate the backstop’, but didn’t say what should replace it. To me this is magical thinking – it was the U.K., not the EU, which demanded the backstop to begin with. I think we should avoid the backstop by negotiating a proper final deal, which would render concerns about the backstop irrelevant. THIS WON, 317-301.
What does all this mean? It’s hard to say. The PM has focused on uniting the Tory Party, rather than Parliament more widely, and in the short term has succeeded. If Tory hardliners (‘the ERG Group’) and the DUP now back the PM’s deal, she will get it through. The EU won’t renegotiate the backstop (again, it was the U.K. that asked for it) but may offer a fig leaf which the hardliners use to justify backing the Deal.
If, however, they are just stringing her along – we could end up with No Deal.