GTMC Brexit Update 2nd April
Last week Theresa May, addressing the House in the aftermath of her Deal’s third defeat, said, “I fear we are reaching the limits of the process in this House”.
She was lamenting the fact that her Deal had been rejected, that the House had blocked leaving with No Deal and, crucially, that the House had not indicated what it would support.
MPs didn’t do anything to change her mind last night as for a second time they failed to find a majority for any of the options that were put forward.
The results were:
Common Market 2.0
Revocation of A50
The margins here are fairly tight and the way that MPs did or did not follow their party whip will be scrutinised closely - in particular the 5 Labour MPs that broke their whip and did not back the Customs Union motion.
- Political Cabinet – We’d already been briefed on Monday that Cabinet was due to sit on Tuesday for a whopping five hours. Three hours of political cabinet (where officials are not present and overtly political considerations are discussed, such as a General Election) and then a full Cabinet for two hours. The Cabinet will be slightly easier because of the failure of MPs to coalesce around a rival option but it is very seriously split between those pushing for a Customs Union and those arguing to leave with No Deal.
- Meaningful Vote #4 – A key consideration is whether a Meaningful Vote will be attempted again. No.10 has said they will not bring it forward unless they have the numbers and they still have the Speaker’s block on repeat motions being brought in. The last Meaningful Vote only got past this judgement because it dropped the Political Declaration and so was “new” in that sense. What can be done to pass this test next time?
- Indicative Votes #3 – Immediately after the vote MPs discussed using the already allotted time on Wednesday to hold another round of indicative votes. Many MPs were discussing whether any of the motions could be melded (composite motions) to pool support and what the procedure might be. The Speaker indicated that Oliver Letwin MP, in collaboration with colleagues, would put forward a new mechanism for Wednesday votes but it is not clear what these will be at this time. There are suggestions there will be some sort of elimination element.
- No Confidence Vote – Labour has been heavily briefing that it is considering a Vote of No Confidence. If this passes then we are on our way to a General Election. They are figuring that things have changed since the last time they attempted it and they may be right. The DUP are now deeply unreliable partners for May and we have heard ERG members in recent days mull over whether they could vote to support such a motion also.
So, no clarity again.
There was genuine disappointment in the House that a way through the impasse had not been found and immediate resolve to change the approach for the next round of votes on Wednesday.
So, no clarity again.
However, we must be conscious of Government’s reaction to the way this process is panning out and Mrs Mays feeling before this latest evening of drama that the "limits of the process" had been reached. Those suggesting a General Election is the only option left will be feeling emboldened this morning.