Brexit: what does the indicative voting involve?

MPs will take part in a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday in the hope of establishing what sort of Brexit could command a majority in Parliament.

– How will that work?

Under the plan put forward by Tory Sir Oliver Letwin, at 2pm normal proceedings in the House will stop and MPs will then consider a series of motions setting out alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

MPs with plans were given until the rise of the Commons on Tuesday to set them out so they can be included in the order paper on Wednesday.

Commons Speaker John Bercow will decide which proposals will be put to a vote.

– How long will that take?

MPs will be presented with a ballot paper listing all the selected proposals and will vote “aye” or “noe” to whichever ones they choose.

There will be half an hour set aside for MPs to cast their votes, from just after 7pm.

The results will then be announced around 9pm.

(PA Graphics)

Will MPs decide on what they want on Wednesday?

Probably not. Because they can vote for any of their preferred options a clear winner is unlikely to emerge.

A second round of voting has been pencilled in for April 1, when MPs will again take charge of the Commons agenda.

Indicative Votes: Text of the Business of the House Motion for tomorrow.

— Hilary Benn (@hilarybennmp) March 26, 2019

Which options are likely to be considered?

It will be up to the Speaker, but Sir Oliver said he believed all “serious” proposals that were put forward should have a chance to be debated.

Among proposals tabled are Labour’s plan for a permanent customs union and close alignment with the single market; a demand for a public vote on any Brexit deal passed during this Parliament; and a call for MPs to be able to vote on no-deal versus no-Brexit if the UK gets within two days of crashing out.

Oliver Letwin
Sir Oliver Letwin tabled the amendment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Other options put forward are a Norway-style “Common Market 2.0” deal; membership of the European Economic Area and European Free Trade Association without a customs union; and the so-called Malthouse Compromise, which would replace the controversial backstop with alternative arrangements for the Irish border.

– What is the Government’s response?

Ministers have warned it sets a “dangerous, unpredictable precedent”, while Theresa May has said she will not necessarily be bound by the results – particularly if they are “undeliverable” by the EU.

That prompted Tory former minister Nick Boles to warn that MPs could bring forward legislation forcing the Government to act if ministers try to ignore the wishes of Parliament.

– How long have they got to sort this out?

The clock is ticking. Last week, the EU gave Mrs May until April 12 to come forward with an alternative plan if she cannot finally get her twice-rejected Brexit deal through the Commons in a “meaningful vote” this week.

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