Meaningful Vote 29 January


29 January saw another crazy evening in the British House of Commons as Theresa May tried to get her deal through parliament. 

It almost counts as a success when the parliament actually did pass a motion uniting all sides of the governing conservative party. It called on the prime minister to return to Brussels to make alternative arrangements to avoid the so-called backstop coming into play. The major problem is that there is no indication of what those alternative arrangements might be, as LibDem MP Tom Brake pointed out in an intervention. He went on to describe on TalkRadio the government's support for the backbench motion as being bizarre.

Neither of the Liberal Democrat amendments calling for a People's Vote on the final deal and one setting up a so-called house business committee to control the timetable in the House of Commons was actually taken for debate. The Liberal Democrats supported the motion which stated that there should not be a no-deal Brexit. Depressingly Labour MPs assisted the Government in keeping No-Deal on the table. An amendment, proposed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, would have rejected a No-Deal outcome, at least delaying Brexit, but 14 Labour MPs voted with the Conservatives and other Labour MPs abstained, ensuring the Cooper amendment was defeated.

The biggest question is what happens when Theresa May returns from Brussels with no "alternative arrangements" in place? The European Union has been saying for some time that it does not want to re-open the agreement which was approved by the British government. Will we be heading towards a no-deal Brexit by default? In that case, as Tom Brake said in a conference call, the Liberal Democrats will support an extension of the Article 50 process. It's a motion that would probably have to go through the House of Commons. 

The next big debate is scheduled for 14 February. The whole process is just being kicked down the road. 


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