On 12 March another vote was held in the House of Commons on the terms on which the UK will leave the European Union. As in the previous vote, I voted for the now amended Withdrawal Agreement. I voted for this after a great deal of thought, having listening to many representations of every description but importantly those from many of our local businesses. These businesses provide jobs and and impact livelihoods, and so require certainty on how to plan their operations.
The agreement failed to gain a majority in the House of Commons and was defeated by 149 votes, with 242 voting for the agreement and 391 voting against
Currently this means the UK will leave the EU on 29th March without a deal under the legislation that has already been voted through by Parliament.
However, the Government has now announced two further votes on 13 March and 14 March on the Brexit issues. On 13 March a free vote has been given to the Conservative Members of Parliament on a motion as follows:
The Prime Minister
That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.
The Government has tabled this motion for debate today to test whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March. If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision.
If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March, the Government will, following that vote, bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to Article 50.
If the House votes for an extension, the Government will seek to agree that extension with the EU and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension.
At this stage by far the best outcome remains for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion with a deal. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face – The EU will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension. These are unenviable choices, but due to the decision the House made last night they must now be faced.
There have been a number of amendments tabled to the motion today but the Speaker will only announce his choice just before the debate commences. Then, of course, we do not know whether Government will accept any amendments or whether those amendments will in fact be pushed to a vote or withdrawn. Consequently, I cannot say at this stage how I will vote on any amendments.
On balance – and these are difficult decisions - I will be voting to keep no deal on the table as I believe that it is a negotiating tool that keeps pressure on the EU for our ongoing negotiations on the terms on which we leave. Although I do not like the withdrawal agreements’ provisions, I believe that we need a “managed” departure for the EU and I am urging the PM to continue to find a solution even at this late stage. However this also depends on what amendments may be adopted by the House to alter the main motion.
At the moment of writing, the vote on 14 March should be on Article 50 and whether to extend it. As with everything in this process, we should wait until an announcement is made to understand the definitive position.
In the meantime the Government has published the position on tariffs if we leave without an agreement on 29 March.
I hope this is helpful.