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UK MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of March vote on extension of Article 50

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UK MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of March vote on extension of Article 50
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UK MPs voted on a number of tabled amendments in parliament on Wednesday evening to pave the way for the next steps in the Brexit process.

Only two of the five amendments were passed, including a safeguard on EU and UK citizens' rights regardless of the outcome of Brexit, and an amendment to ensure the commitment made by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a "meaningful vote" in mid-March.

Of the amendments rejected was the Labour Party's negotiating position, which sought to force the government to adopt the party's five objectives during negotiations with the EU.

Experts have noted that such a rejection will now place pressure on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to fully back a second referendum.

The amendments

Several amendments were tabled from various corners of British politics, but just five were chosen by Speaker John Bercow on Wednesday for debate and subsequent vote.

But what are they, and how did they fare?

A) Labour Party ' Brexit negotiating position'

The Labour Party announced on Monday that its amendment would seek to force the government to adopt Labour's objectives, a list of the party's five demands, during Brexit negotiations.

These demands included a permanent UK-EU customs union, and a "close alignment" with the Single Market.

The amendment was rejected in parliament on Wednesday evening with 323 votes to 240, placing pressure on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to back a second referendum.

K) Rule out no-deal Brexit 'in any circumstances'

The Scottish National Party, led by Ian Blackford, tabled an amendment to ensure a no-deal Brexit was rejected "in any circumstances."

This amendment was particularly important in relation to May's promised meaningful votes in mid-March.

May warned parliament on Tuesday that a possible extension of Article 50 would be a one-off and would be brief, therefore creating a "sharper cliff-edge" in regards to an exit date.

It was rejected in parliament with 324 votes to 288.

READ MORE: Theresa May lays out plans for a possible Article 50 extension

C) Ensure an outcome is reached by March 18

A cross-party amendment led by Conservative MP Caroline Spelman and Labour MP Jack Dromey sought guarantees that a Brexit outcome is reached by March 18.

Should there not be an agreement on either a deal or a no-deal scenario by this date, the amendment states May would have already notified EU Council President Donald Tusk on the UK's desire to seek an extension on Article 50.

However, Spelman withdrew the amendment at the time of voting.

B) Securing the rights of UK and EU citizens post-Brexit

The amendment tabled by Conservative MP Alberto Costa sought a guarantee that the rights of UK and EU citizens were protected, regardless of the Brexit outcome.

"This issue transcends party politics, we are not dealing in borders or backstops, but people's lives and their livelihoods," Costa wrote Twitter on Wednesday.

"I have been hugely encouraged by the messages of support and hope received from thousands of EU citizens in the UK & UK citizens abroad.

His amendment was passed in parliament unopposed.

READ MORE: Can a separate deal guarantee the rights of UK and EU citizens post-Brexit?

F) 'Ensure no backtracking' on vote to Article 50 extension

With cross-party support, the Labour Party's Yvette Cooper tabled an amendment to ensure that May's commitment to a mid-March "meaningful vote" remained firm.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Cooper said the amendment would bring forward legislation to "secure confirmation of the PM's commitment," and "ensure there is no backtracking from anyone in the Cabinet."

The amendment passed in parliament on Wednesday evening with a landslide majority of 502 votes to 20.

What next after Wednesday's vote?

Following parliament's vote on the Brexit amendments, MPs will be gearing up for the "meaningful votes" promised by Theresa May in mid-March.

These votes will be held in three stages, allowing politicians to eventually vote on a possible extension to Article 50.

For the first stage, scheduled for March 12, MPs will be invited to vote on May's current Brexit agreement.

Should her agreement be rejected, MPs would then be invited back the following day to vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal.

Providing a majority rejects both these votes, MPs will be invited to vote on a third consecutive day on whether the UK should seek an extension of Article 50.

READ MORE: UK Prime Minister Theresa May lays out plan for extension of Article 50