Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Five things we learned from the Brexit debate

Five things we learned from the Brexit debate

Theresa May will be obliged to present members of parliament a new Brexit plan within three days if her current proposal is voted down next week, after a procedural amendment to the plan's progress through the House of Commons was passed on Wednesday amid chaotic scenes.

Rather than warming to May's deal since then, lawmakers have tried to wrest control of Brexit from the government and put it in the hands of Parliament.

When the Prime Minister made a decision to delay the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by a month because she was facing a historic defeat, with more than 100 Tories ready to vote it down, she pledged to gain legally binding assurances from the EU.

The technical changes to a crucial piece of government legislation were meant to demonstrate to ministers the strength of opposition to a no-deal Brexit in the Commons. "Obviously she has had a lot of important discussions over the Christmas break with other European leaders and I'm sure she would want to update parliament".

However, in order to allow time for either of these options, the government would nearly certainly need to propose an extension to Article 50, which would then need to be agree by all 27 European Union member States.

Yesterday Sir Keir said for the first time that extending Article 50 "may well be inevitable" despite an... "But, of course, we can only seek it because the other 27 have to agree".

Treasury minister Robert Jenrick said it is the " simple truth" that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union on 29 March, noting that planning for a no-deal scenario was "prudent preparation to provide our taxpayers with the certainty they deserve", adding that the only effect of the amendment would be to make the United Kingdom "somewhat less prepared". I genuinely think we can't do it on March 29 this year. "It´s simply not viable, for so many practical reasons", he told the Commons. So we're going to have to look at what are the available options realistically still on the table, and what are the merits of each'. In a febrile Commons chamber, some Tories shouted "pathetic" and "ridiculous" as Bercow spoke, though the Speaker was backed by roars of approval from Labour MPs.

Many Brexiter MPs were furious with Bercow, believing it was effectively unconstitutional to allow a business motion - which sets out what MPs are about to debate and vote on - to be amended.

Duchess of Cambridge celebrates 37th birthday as Duke spends day working
There was an extra present, a model helicopter, for George and his father quipped: "I can not go back without a helicopter, George will never forgive me".

But Mr Bercow defended his decision amid jeers and heckles from the Tory benches, saying: "I'm trying to do the right thing and make the right judgments".

"We are surprised the government amendment was selected; the advice we received was that it would not be in order", he said.

And this motion would be amendable, as I understand it.

Andrea Leadsom, a Cabinet Brexiteer and Leader of the House of Commons, asked Mr Bercow to release the advice he received from the Clerk of the House of Commons on whether the amendment should have been accepted, but he declined to do so.

The prime minister has already pulled the vote once with defeat looming, and a loss for the government would plunge Britain into "uncharted territory", according to May, putting the whole process up for grabs.

One of the most angry interventions came from Mark Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford and a repeated critic of Bercow.

May's de-facto deputy said it was a delusion to think the government would be able to negotiate a new divorce deal if parliament voted down hers.

Number 10 denied a report the Government was talking to Brussels about extending Article 50 to buy more time by delaying Britain's departure from the EU.

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