Monday, 1 April 2019

What will MPs vote on tonight?

Rebel MPs will today launch a fresh attempt to force Theresa May into a soft Brexit tonight by holding a second round of votes on alternatives to her deal including a customs union or a second referendum.

Ministers believe as many as 70 Tory MPs could add their votes to a proposal to remain in the EU customs union, which could lead to it winning over a majority of MPs and killing off the Prime Minister's deal. The idea fell six votes short of a majority in the first ballot of MPs last week.

A second referendum also ended last week in with a fighting chance while Labour votes could revive the very soft Brexit plan known as Common Market 2.0.  

If anything wins, the Commons is then expected to demand Mrs May adopts the result as part of her plan and present it to Brussels. MPs are willing to try and change the law to force her hand. 

But if the PM did back down she would face a slew of resignations by Brexiteers, forcing her to consider a snap general election to break the deadlock. 

A first round of indicative votes was held last Wednesday but MPs were unable to agree on how to proceed. Eight different scenarios were put to a vote and all were defeated.

This afternoon Speaker John Bercow is expected to select three or four alternatives to go on a ballot paper, with the votes scheduled to take place at 8pm and results due around 10pm.

Such is the power of the Speaker he does not have to justify his choices or explain how they were made. 

But he has previously looked more favorably on motions and amendments that have cross-party backing rather than being partisan in nature.

This means he is likely to go for the motions MPs came closest to backing with a majority last Wednesday: remaining in a customs union, a second referendum and revoking Article 50. 

If everything is defeated again it will leave the entire process in limbo ahead of an emergency EU summit on April 10.

Most Conservative MPs will get a free vote - except the Cabinet who are under orders to abstain. 

Labour is again whipping for a second referendum and customs union. It is also now voting for the very soft Brexit 'Common Market 2.0' plan - putting the plan back in play despite its poor showing last week. 


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