- Members of Parliament have voted for the Brexit backstop to be changed, meaning Theresa May will go back to Brussels and ask the EU for the deal to be renegotiated.
- MPs voted by 317 votes to 301 for an amendment tabled by Conservative Brexiteer, Graham Brady.
- However, the EU has said it will not renegotiate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
- MPs also voted to reject leaving the EU without a Brexit deal.
- However, the House of Commons rejected two key amendments tabled by Yvette Cooper and Dominic Grieve that could have delayed Brexit and let MPs discuss alternatives like another referendum.
- The prime minister on Tuesday promised to re-open negotiations on the backstop policy for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.
- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he will is prepared to open Brexit talks with May.
LONDON – Theresa May will go back to Brussels and ask for the European Union for changes to the Brexit deal after MPs voted for the backstop for Northern Ireland to be re-written.
MPs voted by 317 votes to 301 to replace the controversial backstop with alternative arrangements after Conservative MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party supported an amendment backed by the prime minister.
However, the EU has flat out rejected the possibility of re-negotiating the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
MPs on Tuesday night also voted to reject leaving the European Union without a deal. This amendment has no legal effect but is an expression of parliamentary will that will be difficult for May to ignore.
Amendments tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Dominic Grieve which sought to potentially delay Brexit and let MPs vote on alternatives to May’s deal were defeated.
Scroll down to find out what happened on another dramatic night of voting in Westminster.
All times are in GMT.
21:00: Corbyn says he will hold Brexit talks with May
Responding to tonight’s results, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he is prepared to hold talks with Theresa May on her Brexit deal and what steps she should take next.
Corbyn had previously refused to sit down with May over her refusal to formally rule out no-deal.
That’s all from Business Insider’s politics team tonight. Good evening!
20:40: MPs vote for Brady’s backstop amendment, sending May back to Brussels
Another significant result.
MPs have voted by 317 to 301 for an amendment tabled by Conservative MP Graham Brady which calls for the backstop measure for Northern Ireland to be replaced by alternative arrangements.
This means Theresa May will go back to Brussels and ask the EU to do something it has already flat out said it will not – re-negotiate the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement.
In summary, we are back to square one.
20:29: May suffers her first loss, MPs vote against no-deal Brexit
Theresa May has suffered her first defeat!
MPs have voted by 318 to 310 to reject the UK leaving the EU without a Brexit deal.
The amendment has no legal effect, meaning the prime minister doesn’t have to follow it. But in theory, it has great political force and is very difficult for Theresa May to ignore.
Now onto the final amendment, tabled by Tory Brexiteer Graham Brady. Another big one.
20:10: Another win for Theresa May
Another amendment vote, another win for Theresa May.
MPs have voted by 322 to 299 to reject an amendment tabled by Labour’s Rachel Reeves which was very similar to Yvette Cooper’s amendment. If passed, it would call on the government to extend Article 50 if there wasn’t an approved Brexit deal by the end of February.
Now MPs are voting on an interesting amendment tabled by Conservative MP Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey, which point blank rejects the UK leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. The amendment does not have legal force but would be a clear expression of parliamentary opinion that would be very difficult for May to ignore.
20:10: Pound falls after Cooper’s amendment is defeated
The British pound is falling against the dollar after MPs voted to reject Yvette Cooper’s plan for Article 50 to be extended.
19:56: Yvette Cooper’s Article 50 amendment falls
This is a big result.
MPs have voted against an amendment tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper which would have laid the foundations for MPs to tell Theresa May to delay Brexit by extending the Article 50 process.
MPs voted by 321 to 298 to reject the amendment. That’s a bigger margin of defeat than the amendment’s backers had been expected. A rare piece of good news for Theresa May.
19:42: Dominic Grieve’s amendment fails
And for the first big result of the night…
It’s a win for Theresa May. MPs have voted by 321 to 301 to reject Dominic Grieve’s amendment.
If passed, it would have set aside six days for MPs to discuss and hold indicative votes on alternatives to May’s Brexit deal, including a soft, Norway-style Brexit and another referendum.
It’s a blow for campaigners for another referendum (or “People’s Vote”) who had been urging their supporters to lobby MPs to support vote for Grieve’s amendment.
Now for Yvette Cooper’s amendment…
19:28: SNP amendment roundly rejected
Again, as expected, MPs have just voted to reject the Scottish Nationalist Party’s amendment to Theresa May’s deal.
Just 35 SNP MPs voted for it, while 327 voted against it.
Now for Dominic Grieve’s amendment, which if passed would set aside six days for MPs to discuss and hold indicative votes on possible alternatives to May’s deal. This could include a soft, Norway-style Brexit or another referendum.
19:17: MPs vote down Corbyn’s Brexit amendment
As expected, the House of Commons has just voted to reject Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment which calls on the government to adopt Labour’s alternative Brexit plan.
MPs voted by 327 to 296 to defeat the amendment.
Just six amendments to go…
19:00: Conservative Brexiteers back Brady amendment
The European Research Group of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs will be “broadly supporting” Graham Brady’s backstop amendment, group leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has just told journalists including Business Insider’s Adam Payne.
Speaking after an ERG meeting in the Houses of Parliament just now, Rees-Mogg said an “overwhelming majority” of the group’s MPs would be backing the amendment.
However, other ERG members who left the group’s meeting in Westminster said that a small number are set to vote against it. Steve Double MP told Business Insider it’d be in the single digits. That could be enough to sink the amendment and humiliate Theresa May.
ERG MPs were also keen to stress that support for Brady’s amendment doesn’t mean support for May’s deal. Numerous said that they would vote against the deal again when it comes back to the House of Commons if the prime minister hasn’t delivered the legal changes she has set out to secure.
Andrew Rosindell MP said he was reluctantly backing the Brady amendment to give May time to “get tough with the EU” and “one last chance to get it [the backstop] sorted.”
17:38: Labour MP “disappointed” that Corbyn wouldn’t take People’s Vote question
During his speech to the House of Commons earlier today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to take a question (or “intervention”) from Labour MP Angela Smith.
Smith, a long-standing critic of Corbyn’s leadership, wanted to ask him about his stance on a new Brexit referendum. However, he didn’t take her question, even after being urged to do so by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
Speaking to Business Insider after Corbyn’s speech, Smith said he was “sorely disappointed” in him.
“I’m sorely disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition failed so badly to listen to what I had to say. It goes against the spirit of how we debate important issues in the House of Commons,” she said.
17:34: It’s going to be close
It’s currently difficult to predict how the House of Commons will vote on the key amendments this evening, with the word in Westminster being that there could be just a few votes in it.
The Sun’s Tom Newton-Dunn reckons that up to 30 Labour MPs could defy Jeremy Corbyn and either vote against or abstain on Yvette Cooper’s Article 50 amendment. That would make the result very close.
The Spectator’s James Forsyth says both the Cooper amendment and the amendment put forward by Graham Brady pertaining to the backstop for Northern Ireland are really right, with “only a handful of votes in it.”
17:22: So what’s the plan for tonight?
It’s going to be another late night!
MPs will begin voting on the seven amendments selected by Commons Speaker John Bercow at 7pm with the key results expected to come in at some time after 9pm.
Theresa May is expected to make a House of Commons statement from the dispatch box once the results have been announced.
15:41: May spoke to Juncker before Commons statement
Theresa May had a phone call with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to her House of Commons speech, her spokesperson has just said.
May gave Juncker a heads up before she told MPs that she’d go back to Brussels and ask for “significant and legally binding changes” to the Withdrawal Agreement, specifically the backstop proposal for Northern Ireland.
Her spokesperson did not reveal the details of the phone call.
15:25: Report — EU has already prepared a rejection for May
The EU has already put together a response in the event that MPs vote for an amendment calling on Theresa May to re-negotiate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, according to Bloomberg.
Unsurprisingly, the answer is no.
The amendment in question, tabled by senior Conservative MP Graham Brady, instructs the prime minister to negotiate an alternative to the backstop for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. It is supported by Theresa May’s government.
However, the EU has said on multiple occasions that it will not re-negotiate the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement, particularly the backstop.
15:00: Corbyn backs ‘inevitable’ delay to Brexit
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that his party will back the Yvette Cooper amendment which is designed to allow MPs to force Theresa May to delay Brexit.
The amendment allows for an extension of up to 9 months. However, Corbyn told the House of Commons that he would support an extension of up to 3 months.
“We are backing a short window of three months to allow time for renegotiation,” Corbyn said, adding that it was no “inevitable” that Brexit would now be delayed.
“It is inevitable that the government will have to extend Article 50 in any scenario,” he told MPs.
He also confirms that he will meet with May once the “immediate threat” of crashing out without a deal is removed.
Corbyn’s support means that Cooper’s amendment now has a good chance of clearing the Commons tonight.
14:45: May: “I will never stop battling for Britain.”
Theresa May closes her House of Commons statement by urging MPs to get behind her and give her a mandate to return to Brussels and ask for significant changes.
“I will never stop battling for Britain,” the prime minister declares, and says MPs who want to deliver Brexit and avoid no-deal must not vote for amendments tabled by Yvette Cooper, Dominic Grieve and others.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is up now.
14:21: PM refuses to rule out delaying Brexit
In response to intense repeated questioning from Labour MP Yvette Cooper, Theresa May refuses to rule out extending Article 50 if MPs instruct her to so.
Cooper – whose amendment lays the foundations for MPs to instruct the UK government to extend the Article 50 period by up to nine months – asks the prime minister to confirm that she would request an extension to Article 50 if the House of Commons voted for it.
May refused to rule out extending Article 50 three times.
Remember, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29.
13:58: Bercow chooses key amendments for Commons vote
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has just announced that he has chosen 7 amendments for MPs to vote on this evening. They are the amendments tabled by:
1) Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
2) SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford
3) Conservative MP Dominic Grieve
4) Labour MP Yvette Cooper.
5) Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
6) Conservative MP Caroline Spelman.
7) Conservative MP Graham Brady.
What does this all mean? Well, in selecting the amendments tabled by Cooper and Brady, Bercow has chosen perhaps the two most talked-about amendments to May’s deal.
Cooper’s would lay the foundations for the prime minister to delay Brexit by requesting an extension to the Article 50 period. The UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 but under Cooper’s amendment, the UK could be in the EU for up to nine months after that date. The Labour Party supports the amendment on the basis that extension is shorter than nine months.
Brady’s amendment, on the other hand, calls on the government to replace the controversial Brexit measure for Northern Ireland with alternative arrangements. May supports the amendment has said she will go back to Brussels and ask for legal changes to the Withdrawal Agreement if the amendment passes on Tuesday evening.
12:32: May aiming for second Brexit vote by February 13
The prime minister is aiming to secure a new deal with the EU by February 13. If that hasn’t happened, she will table an amendable motion in the Commons – like the vote today – which will allow MPs to vote on other ways forward.
12:28 PM: May will call EU leaders to ask for concessions today
May will call EU leaders today to discuss her demands.
“There is a very clear message from EU leaders that they want to leave with a deal […] The deal was rejected by 230 votes, in which case if the deal is to pass there will have to be changes,” said her spokesperson.
12:27: May told Cabinet she wants to re-open Withdrawal Agreement to make backstop ‘temporary’
The prime minister told ministers at this morning’s Cabinet meeting that she is backing Brady amendment, a spokesman said. That means re-opening the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure ” “that the backstop is only temporary,” a Downing Street spokesperson told Business Insider.
“If we are going to win the support of the house there have to be changes,” said the official.
Will May back the latest plan, known as the Malthouse compromise? Downing Street did not confirm or deny rumours that she would, but the spokesperson said: “We welcome that MPs are coming together to discuss the way forward.”
11.14 AM: DUP backing Malthouse amendment
The DUP is backing the Malthouse amendment and is urging the prime minister to do the same.
The party’s leader Arlene Foster said in a statement: “The DUP parliamentary group met this morning and discussed the ‘Malthouse’ alternative proposals for the draft withdrawal agreement.”
“The DUP has given its endorsement to the plan. We believe it can unify a number of strands in the Brexit debate including the views of remainers and leavers. 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.”
10:25: Theresa May to open debate
There has been what could be a significant change of plan. Having originally been set to close the debate prior to voting this evening, Theresa May will open the debate, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reports.
This could mean she has a new development to share with MPs.
Earlier today, Kuenssberg’s BBC colleague Norman Smith said that May could say she plans to re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU has repeatedly said this is not an option.
10:07: Explained — the amendments set for tonight
Business Insider’s Tom Colson explains what the amendments put forward by MPs would actually mean for Brexit.
Here’s a snippet of his explanation of Yvette Cooper’s amendment:
The UK is currently set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, whether it has secured an exit deal or not. May has also insisted that the UK will leave by that date with or without a deal. However, an amendment brought by Labour MP Yvette Cooper is designed to prevent this.
Cooper’s amendment would allow parliamentary time for a bill – also tabled by Cooper – which would allow MPs to vote on delaying Brexit if parliament has not approved a deal by the last week of February.
If passed, the bill would be legally binding on May’s government. However, it would not automatically require the government to seek an Article 50 extension. Instead, it would give the government until February 26 to secure a deal which is accepted by parliament.
10:00: Pro-Remain Conservatives lambast the Malthouse Brexit plan
The Conservative party’s strongly pro-EU backbench MPs are deeply unimpressed by the “Malthouse Compromise” plan.
One MP tells Business Insider it is a “mirage” and “smoke and mirrors” because the EU will never agree to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement.
They added that calls for the UK to leave the EU without a deal are “nonsense” because: “A managed no-deal is like saying a managed pile-up on the motorway. It’s still something you’d rather avoid.”
They also said they were “very surprised” to see avid Remainers MPs Nicky Morgan and Stephen Backing put their names to the plan. “The so-called compromise is nothing of the sort. It’s a sell out. People should see it for what it is,” they said.
09:52: Here’s the Malthouse Compromise plan
And here is the “Malthouse Compromise” document that was leaked to journalists including Business Insider’s Adam Payne on Monday evening…
09:31: What’s the “Malthouse Compromise” everyone is talking about?
Late on Monday evening news broke of a Brexit plan secretly drawn up by Conservative MPs from rival wings of the party. Dubbed the “Malthouse Plan” in tribute to one of its designers, Kit Malthouse MP, it is backed by arch Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker as well as Remain-voting MPs like minister Stephen Hammond and Nicky Morgan.
But what is it? Take a deep breath…
The plan is in two stages.
The first – plan A – calls on UK and EU negotiators to scrap the current backstop measure for avoiding a hard Irish border and replace it with other arrangements like those described by hard Brexiteers in a report called A Better Deal published in December. The report makes the disputed claim that the current backstop – in which the UK would remain in a customs union with the EU while Northern Ireland would effectively stay in the single market – is not necessary because there is technology that can ensure that the Irish border remains frictionless.
However, the EU has been clear that neither the backstop or anything else in the Withdrawal Agreement can be negotiated. So, onto part B…
If part A fails, then the UK government should pursue what the Malthouse plan describes as a “basic transition agreement.” Under this arrangement, the UK would leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement on March 29 but there would be a transition period up to no later than December 2021 to give both the UK and EU time to prepare for trading with each other on basic World Trade Organisation rules. Both sides would also uphold commitments on citizens rights, financial commitments and other areas of the Withdrawal Agreement. It’s basically bits of the Withdrawal Agreement that the UK is happy with – without the official Without Agreement.
Pro-Brexit MPs seem to really like it. One member of the European Research Group told Business Insider: “[It] shows how various factions of Tory Party despite strongly held opposing views going the extra mile to find equitable solution which could get through Commons. I welcome this initiative and hope it gains traction today. Malthouse has played a blinder.”
However, the EU is almost certainly to hate it. After all, it does contradict things that the EU has said publicly numerous times.
Quoting a source in Brussels, ITV’s Robert Peston tweets: “Zero chance. Have just discussed over here. Viewed as both extraordinarily funny and tragic.”
As of yet we haven’t had official word from Downing Street on the idea. That will probably come when May’s spokespeople update journalists later this morning.
09:04: Why Theresa May is facing a Brexiteer mutiny entirely of her own making
There were farcical scenes in parliament last night after Theresa May addressed colleagues at the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, and the prime minister found herself facing a mutiny entirely of her own making.
The 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs meets regularly but it is at its fullest and rowdiest on occasions like last night where the prime minister attends to address colleagues.
The main topic of discussion was a series of amendments that MPs have tabled to the prime minister’s Brexit motion this evening which will allow MPs to vote on alternative outcomes for Brexit.
One amendment, tabled 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady – who voted against the prime minister’s deal – calls on the government to replace the Irish backstop measure in the Withdrawal Agreement. That idea is popular with many Tory MPs who fervently oppose the backstop.
But the EU has repeatedly made clear that it would never consider removing the backstop from the Brexit deal, and many moderate MPs consider the amendment an indulgent fantasy.
Arriving at the 1922, Jacob Rees-Mogg announced that he and his colleagues in the hardline European Research Group of MPs were in “no mood to support” the Brady amendment amid fears it was too vague.
But Theresa May then told MPs in the 1922 that she would be whipping MPs to support the amendment. One Tory MP told Business Insider that she said she wanted to demonstrate that she had a “serious chance” of “demonstrating” to Brussels that the backstop wouldn’t be included as part of the withdrawal agreement.
When arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson challenged the prime minister on how the vaguely worded Brady amendment would help May secure substantive change on the backstop, she told him: “We won’t know unless you support it, Boris!” to loud cheers.
But the prime minister refused to discuss the actual substance of her proposals in any more detail, according to MPs in the room.
Negotiators in the EU believe that May is reluctant to discuss alternative proposals because they don’t exist, and point out that the backstop was shaped by UK negotiators in the first place.
It sets up a very bizarre situation: The government is planning to whip Tory MPs to vote for a rebel amendment to its own motion tomorrow.
But Brexiteer MPs plan to vote against the amendment, which means the government’s plan to make MPs vote for a rebel amendment to its own motion is likely to fail.
Emerging from the meeting said: “I would hope the ERG, when they look at this and actually look through the detail of what this gives the PM tomorrow, see it is about giving a message to Europe about what can go through Parliament in terms of dealing with the backstop issue and why that matters.”
First things first: House of Commons John Bercow may not even select the amendment. If it is selected, the ERG will be heavily pressured to support it. Whether they crack will be an interesting test.
If it is successful, Theresa May appears to think she will have an ace in her hand when she travels to Brussels, proving to them that there is a Commons majority for a deal without the backstop.
In reality, the EU – frustrated by a complete lack of alternative suggestions to the backstop – is likely to offer her plan a resounding rejection.
“We’re not going to reopen the Agreement,” said the EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator in Brussels yesterday.
“The result of the negotiation has been very much shaped by the UK negotiators, much more than they actually get credit for.”
“This is a bit like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
08:40: Another historic day awaits
Good morning from Westminster!
What will today bring for Theresa May? Later tonight MPs will vote on amendments which if passed would basically re-write her Brexit plan.
Remember: This is happening after MPs voted down the prime minister’s deal earlier this month by a record-breaking margin of 230 votes.
We won’t know which amendments will be voted until House of Commons Speaker John Bercow chooses them at around lunchtime today.
However, it is widely expected that Bercow will select the plan put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory Nick Boles to delay Brexit if there is no approved deal by the end of February, and the government-backed amendment put forward by Conservative Brexiteer Graham Brady to replace the controversial backstop for Northern Ireland with another set of arrangements.
With 11 hours or so to go until these votes take place, many MPs are yet to decide how they will vote. They could be crucial in what are shaping up to really close votes.
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