MPs will vote on Brexit deal – but ‘meaningful vote’ process is torn up
MPs will vote on half of Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Friday in what could be a final bid to get the UK out of the EU by May 22.
The government tore apart the ‘meaningful vote’ process as it announced MPs would rule on the terms on which the UK leaves the EU – but not the basis of the future relationship.
The splitting of the deal was criticised by opposition MPs, with Labour saying the move is illegal as it goes against the terms of the meaningful vote agreed by the Commons last year.
However, the government argued that passing the withdrawal agreement alone would be enough to satisfy the EU’s terms to secure a delay to Brexit until May 22.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer was clear his party would vote against the motion, saying: “What the Government is doing is not in the national interest and that’s why we will not support it.”
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House, told MPs if withdrawal agreement was not past by 11pm on Friday, the UK would have to ask for a longer delay to Brexit.
She said: "It’s crucial therefore that we make every effort to give effect to the council’s decision and tomorrow’s motion gives parliament the opportunity to secure that extension.
"I think we can all agree that we don’t want to be in the situation of asking for another extension and facing the potential requirement of participating in European Parliament elections."
Valerie Vaz, Labour’s shadow leader of the House, demanded Theresa May came to the Commons to explain to MPs why she was breaking the terms of the meaningful vote.
“She has a duty to tell the truth to the House, she’s made it clear on that basis that the two are linked together, we are now presented with a motion that breaks that link and on the face of it breaks the law,” she said.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told MPs the move was legal, and Commons Speaker John Bercow said the motion was in order.
If May hoped separating the future relationship plan from the withdrawal agreement would win her the support she needed to secure victory, she will have been disappointed by the reaction from MPs.
Starmer described the move as the "blindest of blindfold Brexits" – a view only compounded by her decision to resign if the deal is approved.
"My biggest fear is that unless Parliament takes a stand now, the outcome of the negotiations is going to be determined by the outcome of next Tory leadership contest," he said, adding: “It could be a Boris Johnson Brexit, a Jacob Rees-Mogg Brexit, or a Michael Gove Brexit.
“That should give anyone considering supporting May’s deal on Friday serious concern.”
The DUP, who have repeatedly said it will vote against withdrawal agreement as long as it contains the controversial backstop protocol, were also unmoved by the government's plan.
NEW/ THE SAME: DUP confirm “voting against” the Withdrawal Agreement approval motion just announced.
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) March 28, 2019