Tuesday 29 January 2019 10:05 pm

Brexit vote live: MPs reject no-deal and vote for changes on the Irish backstop

Hello and welcome to our Brexit vote live blog.

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The Prime Minister brings her plan B to parliament today, but the real meat on the table today are various Brexit amendments tabled by MPs.

These vary wildly – with one expected to call for an alternative to the so-called Irish backstop, and another that could delay Brexit if Theresa May cannot strike a deal that passes through parliament.

Find out more at the bottom of this page.

What you need to know:

  • Commons speaker John Bercow reveals which Brexit amendments will be debated

  • Voting expected to commence around 7pm

  • Results should show what changes are required for parliament to approve Brexit deal


9pm: That's all folks

That's all from us on the live blog! 

Click here for a wrap-up of the day's events from our head of politics Owen Bennett.

8.41pm: MPs vote for the Brady amendment

MPs have voted for the amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady, who is chairman of the 1922 committee, which sought replace the Irish backstop with "alternative arrangements".

The end result was 317 MPs voting for the amendment, and 301 against, with a majority of 16.

8.27pm: MPs vote for the Spelman amendment

In a change of events, MPs have backed the amendment tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour's Jack Dromey which prevented the government from leaving the EU without a deal.

The end result was 318 MPs voting for the amendment, and 310 against, with a majority of 8.

8.12pm: MPs vote against the Reeves amendment

MPs have voted against the amendment tabled by Rachel Reeves, which would have required the government to extend Article 50 if a deal had not been agreed by 26 February. Unlike the Cooper amendment, this was "simply an expression of political will".

The end result was 290 MPs voting for the amendment, and 322 voting against, leaving a majority of 32.

7.56pm: MPs vote against the Cooper amendment

MPs have voted against the amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which sought to extend Article 50 if MPs had not approved May's withdrawal agreement by 26 February.

The end result was 298 MPs voting for the amendment, and 321 against, leaving a majority of 23.

7.43pm: MPs vote against the Grieve amendment

MPs have voted against the amendment tabled by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, which would have allowed MPs six full days to debate and vote upon alternative Brexit options.

The end result was 301 MPs voting for the amendment, and 321 voting against, leaving a majority of 20.

7.28pm: MPs vote against the Blackford amendment

MPs have voted against the amendment tabled by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Plaid Cymru, which requested to extend Article 50, rule out no-deal and allow Scotland and Wales to remain in the European Union.

The end result was 39 MPs voting for the amendment, and 327 voting against, leaving a majority of 288.

7:13pm: MPs vote against Corbyn's amendment

MPs have voted against Corbyn's amendment to allow them time to debate options to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The end result was 296 MPs voting for the amendment, and 327 voting against, leaving a majority of 31.

7pm: It's voting time

After a brief break, MPs are now voting on the selection of amendments put forward today.

We'll be updating this blog with the results and some reaction as things play out.

3.41pm: Corbyn rules out talks with PM unless MPs dismiss no-deal

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said an extension of Article 50 is now "inevitable", if the government is set on keeping the threat of a no-deal exit on the table.

"To crash out without a deal would be deeply damaging for industry and the economy," he said, noting that he backs Labour MP Yvette Cooper's amendment for a three-month extension of Article 50 for "renegotiation".

He added that Labour has always called for no-deal to be taken off the table, and that he would be happy to meet with Theresa May for Brexit talks if MPs vote to do this tonight.


2.03pm: Bercow picks Brady and Cooper amendments for debate

Commons speaker John Bercow has selected seven amendments for debate tonight, including two that could prove decisive in the weeks ahead.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment was selected as was that belonging to 1922 Comittee chair, Tory politician Sir Graham Brady.

Cooper’s seeks to rule out a no-deal Brexit while the Brady amendment – which the Prime Minister favours – calls for “alternative arrangements” to the so-called Irish backstop, which has caused so much difficulty.

The provisional selections will be voted on the below order:

  1. Jeremy Corbyn's amendment

  2. Ian Blackford, the Westminster leader of the SNP

  3. Dominic Grieve

  4. Yvette Cooper

  5. Rachel Reeves

  6. Dame Caroline Spelman

  7. Sir Graham Brady

Bercow’s announcement came just before May addresses the Commons, saying she does not want no deal.

“I don't want to put at risk all the hard work that has seen this government deliver wage growth and record unemployment,” she said.

She added that she wants to go back to Brussels to fight for a new deal – something the EU has ruled out.

However, May added that she plans to hold a second meaningful vote “as soon as we possibly can”.

The first meaningful vote saw May’s deal resoundingly rejected by parliament in a record defeat for a government.


1.15pm: Prime Minister to ask EU to re-open negotiations on Brexit withdrawal agreement

The Prime Minister is set to ask the EU re-open the withdrawal agreement, it has emerged.

Theresa May will seek to open up negotiations again on her rejected Brexit deal in order to change the so-called Irish backstop, she said this afternoon.

According to Reuters, Theresa May's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister said that in order to win the support of the House of Commons, legal changes to the backstop will be required, that would mean reopening the withdrawal agreement."

May, who has asked MPs to back an amendment by Sir Graham Brady that calls for the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements”, believes the EU must change its stance on the withdrawal agreement in order to get a deal through the UK parliament.

"She said a vote of the Brady amendment makes it clear that the current nature of the backstop is the key reason that the House cannot support the deal,” the spokesman added.

The Brady amendment leaves lots of room for what a new backstop arrangement might look like, and otherwise fully supports May’s deal.

So far the EU has been steadfast in its refusal to renegotiate the existing deal, only offering reassurances that it would not use the backstop – which seeks to prevent a hard border in Ireland – unless the UK and EU cannot find a solution by the end of the Brexit transition period.


12.21pm: Labour gets behind Cooper amendment

Labour has confirmed it will back MP Yvette Cooper's tabled Brexit amendment if Bercow selects it for debate today.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg says Labour believes the amendment would "give MPs a temporary window to agree a deal" that could unite the country.

Cooper's amendment aims to stop Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50 on 29 March if she fails to reach a deal with the EU – effectively ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

If Bercow selects the amendment that means it's a fight between Labour and Tory rebels as to whether it will pass, according to the Independent's John Rentoul, who estimates it would get through parliament by 321 votes to 317 – hardly a thumping victory.


11.29am: DUP backs 'Malthouse Compromise'

Arlene Foster, leader of the Northern Irish party DUP, has urged the Prime Minister to back the Malthouse Compromise plan despite ridicule from the EU.

The crux of the deal is an extension to the current transition period – possibly to December 2021 – to give the UK more time to negotiate a free trade deal with the bloc.

Foster said the plan could unite Leavers and Remainers.

"It also gives a feasible alternative to the backstop proposed by the European Union which would split the United Kingdom or keep the entire United Kingdom in the customs union and single market," she added, according to the BBC.

"If the Prime Minister is seeking to find a united front, both between elements in her own party and the DUP, in the negotiations which she will enter with the European Union, then this is a proposition which she should not turn her back on."


10am: EU ridicules Tory-backed Brexit 'Malthouse Compromise'

EU officials poured cold water on plans to break the Brexit stalemate today, dismissing the Brexiteer and Remainer-backed scheme as “nonsense”, according to reports.

Arch EU sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg is working with Steve Baker and Iain Duncan Smith, as well as Remainers Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond on the scheme, the Guardian reports.

Their proposals would see the UK pay its £39bn Brexit divorce bill, tweak the unpopular Irish backstop arrangement and extend the implementation period until December 2021.

That would effectively give the UK more time to strike a free trade deal with the bloc.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Duncan Smith said today that the proposal was “the best hope we’ve got”.

But anonymous EU officials have ridiculed the idea, with one telling the Guardian: “This is just nonsense.”

They pointed out that the new proposal does nothing to prevent a hard border in Ireland – which the backstop arrangement is meant to address.


9.20am: What happens today?

Today Theresa May brings her plan B to parliament – but it’s the amendments that are expected to be the real game-changers today.

While MPs will vote on May’s plan B (criticised for its close resemblance to plan A), that vote is only to confirm that she has in fact got a plan, regardless of what politicians think of it.

Amendments that could alter the path of Brexit altogether are what really matter.

The two big ones cover replacing the so-called Irish backstop – which could tie the UK indefinitely to EU rules – and another would delay Brexit altogether.

The Brady amendment

An amendment put forward by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 Committee, would see the controversial Irish backstop replaced with an undefined alternative. According to reports, this is May’s preferred amendment, which she has asked MPs to vote for.

The Cooper amendment

Another, tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, would force May to delay Brexit if a deal with the EU can’t be agreed.

Helpfully, our political correspondent Owen Bennett has explained what these amendments mean if – as is likely – speaker John Bercow picks them later today, so click here to find out more.

What’s the problem with the Irish backstop?

The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal proved so unpopular the government fell to a historic defeat when parliament voted on it in December, losing by a record 232 votes.

May’s so-called Irish backstop was the reason why, with the arrangement causing widespread dismay across all parties.

The backstop was put in place by UK and EU negotiators to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in case no solution has been found by the end of the UK’s Brexit transition period.

It ties the UK into a temporary customs union with the EU. However, the UK cannot quit the arrangement without the EU’s agreement, leading to fears that we will remain tied to EU custom rules indefinitely.