Saturday, 16 February, 2019

MPs' Brexit vote gives PM mandate to renegotiate deal claims Cairns

Jeremy Corbyn pushes for People's Vote on Brexit through new amendment The Latest: UK food retailers warn of price hikes, shortages
Ben Pena | 31 January, 2019, 01:23

Lewis said May told a meeting of her Conservative MPs on Monday that they should vote in favour of an amendment, proposed by senior Conservative MP Graham Brady, which calls for the backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements".

May has urged them to support one measure that calls for the current backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements" - but the amendment, crafted by members of May's own Conservative Party, is unlikely to pass as pro-Brexit lawmakers believe it would fail to force significant changes to the measure.

The EU have so far ruled out reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, which May said would be needed in order to provide legal changes to the so-called backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland.

Another amendment, rejecting a no-deal Brexit, also won the support of Parliament yesterday.

Today's vote The letter comes at another crucial moment in the Brexit process as UK MPs gather in the House of Commons later today to vote on a series of amendments put forward in a bid to get the seal of approval on the Withdrawal Agreement to leave the European Union in an orderly manner next month.

With the Brexit deadline only 60 days away, MPs will vote on May's "Plan B", which she presented to parliament last week after her initial deal was comprehensively rejected on January 15.

One of the most important amendments comes from Labour's Yvette Cooper, which requires May to delay Brexit and extend Article 50 if she's unable get parliamentary support for her deal by February 26.

"There can be no change to the backstop".

As MPs prepared for a crucial series of Commons votes which could shape the next phase of talks with the EU, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox indicated Mrs May was ready to reopen the Agreement in order to secure a legally-binding text. "I think we should send the prime minister back to Brussels with a strong mandate to be able to say "If you compromise with us on this one issue, on the backstop, we would be able to a get an agreement" - an agreement that is nearly there", he told the BBC.

The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.

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We'll find out soon what amendments British MPs will vote on tonight in the House of Commons.

The dispute between Madrid and London has already threatened to derail the whole Brexit negotiation process, but a last-minute deal with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez cleared the way in November for the 27 European Union states to approve the divorce package.

"This is not a Brussels day, this is a London day", said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

"She said a vote of the Brady amendment makes it clear that the current nature of the backstop is the key reason that the House can not support the deal".

The British PM has opened a day of debates on competing proposals about what to do next following the rejection of her deal earlier this month.

And Ireland's European Affairs Minister, Helen McEntee, cautioned: "There can be no change to the backstop".

Leave supporting MPs have accused the speaker, who publicly declared that he voted for Remain, of using his position, which is traditionally impartial, to try to scupper Brexit, and will be keeping a close eye on his actions on Tuesday.

Moreover, Cooper's amendment would not identify a consensus among MPs to halt a no-deal Brexit.

With more than a dozen amendments tabled, many by cross-party groupings of MPs, the outcome will depend on which ones are selected for voting by John Bercow.

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