Brexit live: MPs to vote on extending Article 50
MPs have gathered in the Commons to vote on a motion which would authorise Theresa May to seek an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiations, delaying Brexit beyond March 29.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said he is “certain” MPs would vote in favour of the Prime Minister’s motion, adding: “Whatever happens, if we don’t get the deal through in the next couple of days, the Prime Minister has to go the European Council next week and seek an extension of time.”
Ahead of the vote, Speaker John Bercow selected four amendments – and one amendment to an amendment – for consideration.
Here’s the latest from Westminster:
SNP puts blame at Labour’s door
Reacting to the result on the Wollaston amendment, Ian Blackford the SNP leader in Westminster called Labour “absolutely spineless” and “the midwifes” to Theresa May’s Brexit.
Woollaston amendment rejected
MPs have rejected an amendment which seeks to extend Article 50 to stage a second Brexit referendum by 334 votes to 85, majority 249.
ERG unlikely to back the votes
Members of the Brexit-backing European Research Group are expected to vote against all the amendments on Thursday evening, a source said.
Four amendments under consideration
Speaker John Bercow has selected four amendments – and one amendment to an amendment – for debate, but not all of them will necessarily be pushed to a vote.
– Second referendum
Tabled by Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston and backed by members of the new grouping, Liberal Democrats and a handful from other parties, this amendment seeks an Article 50 extension to stage a second referendum with Remain and Parliament’s preferred Brexit option on the ballot paper.
– Indicative votes
Tabled by a cross-party group led by Labour’s Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper and Tory Sir Oliver Letwin, this would allow Parliament to take control of business in the Commons on March 20 to force a series of indicative votes to establish MPs’ preferred option for Brexit.
An amendment to the “indicative votes” plan, tabled by Labour’s Lucy Powell, would limit to June 30 any extension of Brexit talks to discuss Parliament’s preferred option.
Labour’s amendment notes that Parliament has “decisively” rejected both Mrs May’s deal and no deal and calls for a delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.
– Block the “meaningful vote”
An amendment tabled by Labour’s Chris Bryant challenges Theresa May’s right under parliamentary rules to bring her Withdrawal Agreement back before the Commons for a third “meaningful vote”, after it was rejected by a majority of 230 in January and 149 this week.
The vote on Mrs May’s proposals will take place at the end of the sequence, with MPs voting on the PM’s motion “as amended” if any of the amendments have secured a majority.
Earlier, the US president gave his opinion on the Brexit process:
Ahead of the votes, the Independent Group of MPs are pushing ahead with a cross-party amendment calling for a new Brexit referendum despite expecting it to be voted down, sources said.
A Tig source said: “I think it would be an absolute travesty if we get to the end of this process and Parliament has been too spineless to actually press an amendment.
“We absolutely refute this idea that it is one shot. We will be bringing it every opportunity now.
“I am under no illusion, without unequivocal Labour Party support it cannot pass.
“I fully expect the Labour Party to feel the heat and to get round to backing it next week.”