MPs could force ‘indicative votes’ – if May doesn’t instigate first

© Jess Hurd/Another Europe is Possible
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Over the weekend, more than a million took part in the ‘Put it to the People’ march in London to express their Brexit-related frustrations. There may have been embarrassingly twee protest signs reeking of privilege, and the show of forceful opinion took place in Remain-heavy London rather than, say, Birmingham. But the huge turnout cannot be ignored, particularly by anyone who says Jeremy Corbyn rallies are nothing to be sniffed at. Meanwhile, a petition calling on the government to “revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU” because another referendum “may not happen” has reached over 5.3 million signatures and continues to garner support.

Theresa May is failing to implement the result of the 2016 referendum. And the longer the Brexit deadlock goes on, the weaker her position becomes and the more likely it is that parliament will take control. MPs have been threatening to do just that for weeks, never quite getting the numbers required, but the Commons only defeated the proposal by two votes last time. Tonight, they will vote on amendments to the government’s latest neutral motion – and that’s when the newest ‘indicative votes’ amendment, tabled by Oliver Letwin, has a good chance of getting sufficient cross-party support. It now remains to be seen whether May will try to stymie the effort by offering a government-controlled version of ‘indicative votes’.

These votes, which could take place on Wednesday, would be advisory and non-binding. And we know that this government likes to ignore those kinds of results. It’s clear, though, that being able to establish which Brexit option attracts the most support is a fair and constructive thing to do (unlike putting the same deal to the Commons over and over again). The more concerning detail is that party leaders may not choose to make these votes ‘free’, i.e. they could whip MPs. On Radio 4 this morning, Labour frontbencher Shami Chakrabarti could not confirmed the plans of Jeremy Corbyn in that respect. Whipped indicative votes would reduce their usefulness.

We don’t yet know whether parliament will take control tonight/MPs will be whipped/the government will take any notice of the results. What we do know is that LabourList readers favour another referendum first and foremost: asked which option they would choose as a Labour MP, 52% of 4,700 respondents opted for the ‘people’s vote’ route. Readers could choose multiple options, but that was still more popular than Labour’s Brexit plan, which 42% ‘voted’ for. A point of interest: the survey showed that out of all respondents, 30% were members or supporters of Corbynite group Momentum. When you exclude those who didn’t choose any groups, that figure rises to 60.5%.

It’s a late one tonight, with Brexit amendment votes starting at 10pm. As usual, make sure you have LabourList open for live updates… Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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