It’s Brexit crunch time… again. The Commons vote tomorrow will test to what extent MPs have shifted towards supporting Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which is notionally ‘Plan B’ but still actually ‘Plan A’ for now, and what changes would have to be made to get her withdrawal agreement through parliament. The battle of amendments is on. MPs are a bit like the opposite of children in a sweet shop, with a great number of legislative tweaks (and transformations) to choose from – until they are whittled down by the Speaker, anyway.
Even a), the official Labour amendment, which restates party policy and has no chance of passing, has itself been subject to a handful of amendments. But to quickly recap, the key proposals are: b) Cooper-Boles, which aims to delay the exit date to avoid ‘no deal’, e) Murrison, which puts a time-limit on the backstop, f) Benn, which demands indicative votes, g) Grieve, which takes control of parliamentary business for six days of Brexit debate; n) Murrison-Brady, which supports the deal if the backstop is replaced with something else. The Tories are largely focussed on Brady’s because the government reckons it could help May secure changes in Brussels. Labour MPs and Tory Remainers are grappling with whether to back Cooper’s idea.
The Labour frontbench is expected to support Yvette Cooper’s amendment, though hasn’t yet. The leadership wants the Article 50 extension reduced from nine months to three months, which would avoid the EU elections problem, and Cooper says her bill would be deliberately amendable for this purpose. Problem solved. But Labour Leavers won’t endorse a delay to Brexit, and the ‘inbetweener’ MPs (who campaigned to remain but represent Leave seats) have significant concerns. Gareth Snell and Lisa Nandy, both of whom have signed Jack Dromey’s non-binding anti-‘no deal’ amendment, would prefer there to be a clear reason for extension. It isn’t appearances to Leave voters that worries them (“that ship has sailed,” one told me), but the practicalities of the move.
Those votes from 7pm tomorrow will be crucial. In the meantime, we’ll be looking at the latest LabourList survey results – which might come as a surprise. More than one poll has shown Labour members to be overwhelmingly in favour of a fresh EU referendum, but our readers are less sure. On that question, 50.2% of a huge 7,224 respondents – thank you to all who took part – told us that they believed Jeremy Corbyn should not back another vote. The rest said he should. The next set of responses found that 55.6% think ‘no Brexit’ would be the best outcome (opting for that over Corbyn’s plan), so it’s clear that not all those who are anti-Brexit want the Labour to endorse another referendum now. The answers on ‘no deal’ preparations and your favourite shadow cabinet members are worth a look too.
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