Brexit amendment tabled by Labour waverers not selected by Bercow

Sienna Rodgers

Speaker Bercow today decided not to select the Brexit amendment tabled by the ‘inbetweener’ Labour MPs who have gone back and forth on whether to vote for Theresa May’s deal. The change, which aimed to guarantee workers’ rights and environmental protections in a future relationship with the EU, was thought to have the support of government.

Although they laid down an amendment that would only take effect if the meaningful vote passed, not all the signatories intended to vote for May’s deal tonight. The amendment related to the political declaration section of May’s divorce deal, i.e. the non-legally binding part. It was therefore considered to be a starting point for negotiations between MPs and the executive on future trade arrangements, rather than a way of helping May win support for her deal now.

However, the amendment did represent significant efforts to build bridges between Downing Street and Labour MPs on Brexit. Despite being shot down by the Labour leadership, as Corbyn’s office noted that the proposals were non-binding and other critics such as IPPR’s Tom Kibasi pointed out that the Withdrawal Agreement already includes non-regression clauses on rights, the amendment could have marked the beginning of further talks between the government and opposition members.

Amendment ‘P’ was laid down by the following MPs:

  • John Mann (will vote for May’s deal)
  • Gareth Snell (will vote against May’s deal)
  • Caroline Flint (unconfirmed)
  • Lisa Nandy (will vote against May’s deal)
  • Frank Field (will vote for May’s deal; now sits as an Independent)
  • Jim Fitzpatrick (will vote for May’s deal)

The full text of the amendment:

At end, add “agrees with paragraph 79 of the Political Declaration that the future relationship must ensure open and fair competition and that provisions to ensure this should cover state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, and relevant tax matters, building on the level playing field arrangements provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement and commensurate with the overall economic relationship; and determines not to allow the UK leaving the EU to result in any lowering after exit day of common EU UK standards provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to employment, environmental protection and health and safety which will continue to protect the wellbeing of every person in this country; and determines that the government should invite the House to consider any measure approved by EU institutions after exit day which strengthens any of these protections.”


The amendments on the meaningful vote today were subject to the Speaker selecting them. This afternoon, John Bercow decided not to select any of the amendments thought to have gained approval within government, in a move that will only make his poor relations with the executive even worse, if that is possible.

The Commons speaker opted to select the following four amendments:

  • Jeremy Corbyn, Labour (A): rejects May’s deal in favour of Labour’s alternative plan including customs union membership;
  • Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative (B): asks the government to withdraw from the Withdrawal Agreement if the EU will not remove the backstop;
  • John Baron, Conservative (F): approves the deal only if the UK can exit the backstop unilaterally;
  • Ian Blackford, SNP (K): rejects May’s deal and calls for extension of Article 50.

They will be taken in the following order: A, K, B, F.

Read the full text of all the amendments on the order paper here.

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