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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Europe"

Charlie Elphicke: The Cabinet must decide today to trigger no deal preparations in full

Charlie Elphicke is MP for Dover and Deal.

What are the chances the UK will leave the EU without agreeing a deal? After the turmoil of the last few days, there has to be a much greater prospect. We now have less than four months to go – we know what needs to be done, and today’s Cabinet meeting should now get on and do it. It’s time to plan, not panic.

Indeed, the full mobilisation of action plans should have been ordered weeks ago. If it had been, Government departments would by now actively be taking all necessary measures. Businesses would be engaged in making full scale preparations for every eventuality. Yet even now as the clock counts down to Brexit Day, it is not too late to act and ensure that Britain stands ready.

17.4 million people – including two thirds of my constituents in Dover and Deal – knew it would not be easy and that there would be challenges and risks of disruption. They knew that because, during the 2016 EU Referendum, it was pretty much all the Remain campaign talked about. We were warned of gridlock on the roads to the Channel Ports. We were told the Calais Jungle would be moved to Dover. We were even warned of a terrible economic calamity in which millions would lose their jobs and house prices would collapse. Despite all these dire warnings, the people voted to Leave.

Now, as we are about to depart the EU, we are once again warned that unless we make a deal – any deal – there will be gridlock at the Dover frontline with months of disruption threatened. Indeed, day by day the warnings have become ever more fearsome: we will run out of medicines, aeroplanes will not take off, our pets will be stuck forever in quarantine, our food will run out. We are even told even our water will be poisonous and undrinkable. With warnings like this, one is left wondering, how on earth did we ever manage these past thousand years?

Of course, everyone knows that leaving Europe will not be easy. It’s no secret – indeed we are told the Cabinet is now aware — that the Channel Ports account for around a third of the UK’s entire trade in goods. There are around 60 sailings to the port of Dover from Dunkirk and Calais every day. The cross-Channel trading route is a huge success story: more than £120 billion of trade moves through Dover’s docks every year and, when you add Eurotunnel into the mix, it’s even more.

Yet it is in everyone’s interests – France’s as well as ours – that traffic continues to flow. Particularly since they sell us £95 billion more goods than we sell to them, and the queues at Calais would be rather longer than those in Kent. Small wonder that Xavier Bertrand, the boss of the Calais region, says they have no intention of holding things up there. And what are the chances that Emmanuel Macron will play politics with jobs and livelihoods on both sides of the English Channel? Especially after he has just done that in France and emerged with riots and a political bloody nose. He is now more likely now to focus on French jobs and free-flowing trade than the plaudits of Brussels.

Nevertheless, imagine that as much effort had been put into taking action as has been put into warning about the possible consequences of inaction. Without doubt, we would be in a much stronger position. Now, with the now very real risk that no agreement is concluded, it is in the national interest that we should spend the near four months from now until Brexit Day making sure we are fully ready for any challenge that may be thrown at us.

This is what we have been doing at the Dover front line – working hard on preparations for disruption. We are making sure that we stand ready. A plan has been put to the Department for Transport to ensure that the town of Dover is free of gridlock and that both of Kent’s motorways can be kept open and free-flowing. Strategies for lorry parking on and off road have been developed. We have also worked hard to secure extra funds for the police to be able to devote what resources may be required to ensure everything works as smoothly as possible in the event of difficulties.

It’s also important to remember that if we leave without agreement, we should have £39 Billion to assist us. For it appears that there is no legal duty to pay this money to the EU in the absence of an agreement. £39 Billion will go a long way to smooth the path of any challenges we may meet. The work at Dover points the way for action that is necessary across the whole waterfront of government to ensure our nation is fully prepared. That is why we must ensure policy responses and urgent preparations are made up and down the land.

The country stood ready in 2016 to make the call for our nation’s independent future. It is now time for our Government to match the political courage of the British people. We must concentrate all our energies to deliver for the people – to plan, not to panic. That way we can ensure that in just over 90 days we will be Ready on Day One, whatever the future may bring.

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WATCH: Francois heckles Lidington – “We can’t vote for it if you don’t bring it forward”

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WATCH: Corbyn – “Yesterday, the Prime Minister demeaned her office”

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WATCH: Cameron says that he doesn’t regret holding the referendum

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Chicken May

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-12-11-at-06.50.25 Chicken May ToryDiary Tory Manifesto 2017 Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Parliament Norway Michael Gove MP Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP House of Commons (general) Highlights Greg Hands MP Greg Clark MP European Court of Justice Europe EU David Lidington MP David Gauke MP Conservatives Brexit

What now is Theresa May’s plan, this morning after the day before?  The simplest explanations are often the most convincing.  In her case, this is: she no longer has one.  Her ambitions for country, party and self have shrunk to seeing each day out.  The most primal of human instincts has taken over, more urgent even than the drives to sex and food: simply to survive. Clinging to office fills her horizon.  She shuffles on into a void.  The will to power has left her a ghost.  Perhaps that is all that can be said.

But there are two other potential answers, assuming that she is not brooding on a general election or preparing to resign – a move that would be out of character for a woman who appears to equate being Prime Minister, whatever the circumstances, with doing her duty.  These explanations are worth probing because, with the future of country, Party and Brexit at stake, Conservative MPs, activists and others must work every faculty to read the signs of the times accurately, and then act promptly.

The first is that she has already decided to postpone Brexit, seek a second referendum, or both.  This take has it that she knows very well that her deal will not be substantially improved by the EU; that it therefore cannot pass through Parliament; that the Remain-friendly Commons will shortly bid for control of its proceedings and timetable – and that she will then, a confidence vote from her Parliamentary Party notwithstanding, give way.  No deal is better than a bad deal has been supplanted by any deal is better than no deal.

Like an empty boat being pushed by the tide, she will drift along with the five-sixths or so of MPs who see a no deal Brexit as the ultimate political evil.  Perhaps the Commons will somehow pull for Norway Plus instead; more likely, it won’t.  It was worth watching which Cabinet heads nodded on her own front bench yesterday when she reiterated the Government’s present stance on a second referendum – and which didn’t.  Greg Clark’s didn’t so much as twitch.  David Lidington and David Gauke are also reported to be ready for a U-turn.

As for that policy – opposition to another referendum – how sure is it?  Indeed, what faith can we place in any commitment that May makes on Brexit, or indeed on anything else?  She promised that she wouldn’t call an election last year; that her Brexit policy would be based on “a comprehensive system of mutual recognition”; that migration would be controlled during transition; that transition wouldn’t be extended; that she would oppose new regulatory barriers in the Irish sea. Ministers were told last year that the backstop had no legal effect.

Politics is a rough old trade, and bending the truth is, as elsewhere in life, part of it.  But even by the standards of Westminster, the Prime Minister’s breaches are brazen.  Leave aside as debatable those manifesto commitments on the Customs Union, the ECJ and the Single Market, and look at the events of recent days.  May said that the EU would not offer us a better deal if the present draft is rejected.  Now she suggests that it can be improved after all, not ruling out changes to the Withdrawal Agreement itself yesterday.

Stephen Barclay and Gove were sent out – the latter only yesterday morning – to assure the public that the meaningful vote would go ahead.  As late as 11am yesterday morning, the Prime Minister’s spokesman was insisting that this was so, even as Cabinet Ministers were briefing that it wasn’t.  Small details like these have big consequences.  Near the core of May’s problem in selling her deal to MPs is that too many of them have simply lost trust in her.  Some no longer believe assurances even when they are truthful – say, on future divergence.

The second interpretation of the Prime Minister’s thinking is completely different.  We advance it with some hesitation, because it may represent less a scheme crafted deliberately than one stumbled upon by accident.  The sum of her statement yesterday was that the meaningful vote is postponed.  She gave no indication whatsoever of when it will be brought back.  In reply to Justine Greening, she suggested that the Government is obliged to hold it by January 21.  Later that day, that was flatly contradicted by the Commons authorities.

Under their interpretation, May’s real deadline is March 28, since the Commons must ratify any amended deal reached with the EU no later than that date.  This could open up an opportunity for the Prime Minister to play a risky game of chicken with our EU interlocuters, the Commons and the Party.  For the later the meaningful vote takes place, the more sharply a no deal Brexit will loom.  This might open up an option: don’t rush for a settlement pre-Christmas, but spin out the talks instead.

It is possible to think May now believes that, under that pressure, the EU will fold next year, and offer a time limit or a unilateral exit from the backstop.  Or that she is concluding the Commons would collapse, even if the EU did not – that, with March 28 and no deal immiment, Labour would buckle and abstain, together with other opposition parties.  Or that even if Jeremy Corbyn did not, some Labour MPs would.  Meanwhile, Conservative opponents could be steered into the abstention column, and Tory abstainers into the aye lobby.

Now, this scenario makes many assumptions: that the Prime Minister will still be in place; that there is no Cabinet revolt; that the Commons has not, by the New Year, wrested control from the Government altogether; that MPs do not (if May seeks to spin out her dealings with the EU) revolt, propose the postponement of Article 50 and perhaps a second referendum, and then see her back down; that the Prime Minister has not been censured, or the Government no confidenced.

But one can also see how the truth could be found here – that May is not so much a headless chicken herself, or seeking to chicken out of Brexit but, rather, now sees before her this game of chicken unfolding as next year unfolds.  It would have one immeasurable plus from her point of view.  It would if successful be a win.  Her deal would have triumphed.  She would have crushed her internal opponents – hard Brexiteers, Norwegians, second referendum supporters: the lot.  The stage would be set for her to go on and on and on towards 2022.

So, back to the present. The wolf has cried 48 letters many times.  It may be that, unlike the animal in the fable, it never comes: that waiting for those letters is like waiting for Godot.  The next 24 hours or so may represent the last chance before the New Year for Tory MPs to act.  Some may do so, convinced that the Prime Minister is beyond rescue.  Others may waver still, terrified of the effect of a leadership challenge on what’s left of the negotiation, or unconvinced by May’s potential replacements.

Our bottom line is that the referendum result must be delivered.  If pro-Brexit MPs believe May is now set on a chicken game, they may stay their hand.  If they conclude that she is set on abandoning Brexit, they won’t and shouldn’t.  On Sunday, we recommended that Tory MPs should send in letters if no substantial change to the backstop emerges this week.  Perhaps the most reliable guide should be what could be called the Greg Hands test – namely, to send in those letters if real preparations for no deal aren’t announced before the weekend.

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“We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow.” May’s statement. Full text.

Mr Speaker, with permission I would like to make a statement on Exiting the European Union.

We have now had three days of debate on the Withdrawal Agreement setting out the terms of our departure from the EU and the Political Declaration setting out our future relationship after we have left.

I have listened very carefully to what has been said, in this chamber and out of it, by members from all sides.

From listening to those views it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one issue – the Northern Ireland backstop – there remains widespread and deep concern.

As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.

We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time.

I set out in my speech opening the debate last week the reasons why the backstop is a necessary guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland and why – whatever future relationship you want – there is no deal available that does not include the backstop.

Behind all those arguments are some inescapable facts.

The fact that Northern Ireland shares a land border with another sovereign state.

The fact that the hard-won peace that has been built in Northern Ireland over the last two decades has been built around a seamless border.

And the fact that Brexit will create a wholly new situation: on 30 March the Northern Ireland/Ireland border will for the first time become the external frontier of the European Union’s single market and customs union.

The challenge this poses must be met not with rhetoric but with real and workable solutions.

Businesses operate across that border. People live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day.

I have been there and spoken to some of those people. They do not want their everyday lives to change as a result of the decision we have taken. They do not want a return to a hard border.

And if this House cares about preserving our Union, it must listen to those people, because our Union will only endure with their consent.

We had hoped that the changes we have secured to the backstop would reassure Members that we could never be trapped in it indefinitely.

I hope the House will forgive me if I take a moment to remind it of those changes.

The customs element of the backstop is now UK-wide. It no longer splits our country into two customs territories. This also means that the backstop is now an uncomfortable arrangement for the EU, so they won’t want it to come into use, or persist for long if it does.

Both sides are now legally committed to using best endeavours to have our new relationship in place before the end of the implementation period, ensuring the backstop is never used.

If our new relationship isn’t ready, we can now choose to extend the implementation period, further reducing the likelihood of the backstop coming into use.

If the backstop ever does come into use, we now don’t have to get the new relationship in place to get out of it. Alternative arrangements that make use of technology could be put in place instead.

The treaty is now clear that the backstop can only ever be temporary.

And there is now a termination clause.

But I am clear from what I have heard in this place and from my own conversations that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of colleagues the reassurance that they need.

I spoke to a number of EU leaders over the weekend, and in advance of the European Council I will go to see my counterparts in other member states and the leadership of the Council and the Commission.

I will discuss with them the clear concerns that this House has expressed.

We are also looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.

Mr Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the detail of Brexit, listening to the public’s ambitions, and yes, their fears too, and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I am in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one. 

It honours the result of the referendum. It protects jobs, security and our Union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually negotiable with the EU.

I believe in it – as do many Members of this House. And I still believe there is a majority to be won in this House in support of it, if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop.

And that is what my focus will be in the days ahead.

But Mr Speaker, if you take a step back, it is clear that this House faces a much more fundamental question.

Does this House want to deliver Brexit? And if it does, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU?

If the answer is yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this House, then we all have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to make a compromise.

Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate.

Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal – including the backstop – are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit.

Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered.

And do so without ducking its implications.

So if you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks dividing the country again, when as a House we should be striving to bring it back together.

If you want to remain part of the Single Market and the Customs Union, be open that this would require free movement, rule-taking across the economy, and ongoing financial contributions – none of which are in my view compatible with the result of the referendum.

If you want to leave without a deal, be upfront that in the short term, this would cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden.

I do not believe that any of those courses of action command a majority in this House.

But notwithstanding that fact, for as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk of an accidental no deal increases. 

So the government will step up its work in preparation for that potential outcome and the Cabinet will hold further discussions on it this week.

The vast majority of us, Mr Speaker, accept the result of the referendum, and want to leave with a deal. We have a responsibility to discharge.

If we will the ends, we must also will the means.

I know that members across the House appreciate how important that responsibility is.

And I am very grateful to all members – on this side of the House and a few on the other side too – who have backed this deal and spoken up for it. 

Many others, I know, have been wrestling with their consciences, particularly over the question of the backstop: seized of the need to face-up to the challenge posed by the Irish border, but genuinely concerned about the consequences.

I have listened. I have heard those concerns and I will now do everything I possibly can to secure further assurances.

If I may conclude on a personal note, Mr Speaker.

On the morning after the referendum two and a half years ago, I knew that we had witnessed a defining moment for our democracy.

Places that didn’t get a lot of attention at elections and which did not get much coverage on the news were making their voices heard and saying that they wanted things to change.

I knew in that moment that Parliament had to deliver for them.

But of course that does not just mean delivering Brexit. It means working across all areas – building a stronger economy, improving public services, tackling social injustices – to make this a country that truly works for everyone, a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind.

And these matters are too important to be afterthoughts in our politics – they deserve to be at the centre of our thinking.

But that can only happen if we get Brexit done and get it done right.

And even though I voted Remain, from the moment I took up the responsibility of being Prime Minister of this great country I have known that my duty is to honour the result of that vote.

And I have been just as determined to protect the jobs that put food on the tables of working families and the security partnerships that keep each one of us safe.

And that is what this deal does. It gives us control of our borders, our money and our laws. It protects jobs, security and our Union. It is the right deal for Britain.

I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people.

And I commend this statement to the House.”

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WATCH: “Deeply discourteous” – Bercow slams the Government for pulling the meaningful vote

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Opining for the fjords

“It’s time to study the map that leads from Norway to Canada,” we wrote in October – having already given the scheme “conceived by George Yarrow, written by Rupert Darwall, produced by George Trefgarne and now choreographed by Nick Boles” a fair wind last summer.  This site trawled through the pluses and minuses of the plan as best it could, urging Downing Street to drop its defunct Chequers Plan and study Norway-to-Canada as an alternative.

The plan has since run on to the rocks – and this Norwegian group divided – for three main reasons.  First, most Brexiteer MPs have been cool about the scheme at best and cold at worst.  Second, and more importantly, the Government set out to strangle it at birth: it is unlikely that Erna Solberg will have consistently poured icy water on the plan without Downing Street’s approval.  Finally, and more significantly still, the EU has discouraged it, since their preferred models are either Norway-plus-the-backstop or Canada-plus-the-backstop.

Rather than drop the scheme, Boles has taken the only practicable route now available to him – namely, making a virtue of necessity, and swallowing Norway-plus-the-backstop, teaming up recently with Stephen Kinnock to promote it.  While we can see a case for Norway to Canada (or “Norway for Now”, as its supporters then called it) and some pluses from permanent EEA membership, we can’t see an upside from Norway-plus-the-backstop (or “Norway Plus”, as its backers now label it, though “Norway Minus” would be a better label, since the possibility of a permanent customs union arrangement is a negative, not a positive).

Its supporters sometimes argue that the backstop may fall away in time.  But since it therefore may not, the scheme is left in the same condition as Theresa May’s proposed deal in this regard.  In other crucial respects, it is inferior to it, since the Prime Minister’s plan would end freedom of movement and payments to EU budgets.  Norway Plus would deliver the latter – though some money would pass from the UK to the EU27 – but not the former.

On borders, the EEA Agreement allows for “safeguard measures” – the so-called “emergency brake” – and “limitations justified on grounds of public policy”.  We are not in a position to apply the former, given the fall in EU migration, and it would be a stretch to work the latter, which could be used to limit work permits, into fully-fledged control of borders.  On money, we’d presumably have to pay “EFTA grants” to the poorer EU states.  That might well cost less than payments into the EU budget – but these would still be payments none the less.

Debating these points leads inevitably to a bigger one.  Supporters of all the Norway variants tend to argue that the UK is leaving the EU, not the EEA – and that we can therefore simply take up our EEA rights.  Legally, they may be correct.  But we suspect that the determinant of whether we could take up the Norwegian plans in any form would be politics, not law.  And our columnist Henry Newman has a point when he suggests that the EEA states, whether EU members or not, believe that the UK is too big to be treated like Norway.

The long and short of it is that we would probably, under any kind of EEA and EFTA arrangement, have to draw up our own special deal – a separate UK “pillar”.  Negotiating it would throw up distinct problems.  Henry writes that the EU won’t want us to have Norway’ services deal, and that “others don’t want us out of the Fisheries Policy & CAP, nor under the EFTA Court & Surveillance Authority (rather than the European Court of Justice). While they are at it we will probably end up asked to pay more money.  Add these together and they could quickly take away any advantages of Norway Plus and move it towards non-voting EU membership in all but name.”

To be clear: on paper, pure EEA membership has some positives.  We would be outside the EU’s jurisdiction on fisheries, farming, criminal justice, foreign affairs, defence and immigration.  The scale of the EU acquis would be smaller.  Our role in shaping it wouldn’t end: while it is true that we would technically become a rule-taker, is an exaggeration to claim that, in practical terms, we would end up as a vassal state.

But Norway Plus is not undistilled EEA membership.  And the latter is unlikely to be on offer in any event.  None the less, the Boles proposal has one big advantage over that other option currently being pushed in the Commons – postponing and then reversing Brexit via a second referendum.  Norway in any form equals leaving the EU – technically, anyway.  It could not truthfully be claimed that Norway Plus would dishonour the referendum instruction, though it can certainly be argued that while it sticks to the letter it is wide of the spirit.

That may matter if – or perhaps we should say when – May’s deal goes down.  Remove from its opponents the minority of MPs who would tolerate or welcome no deal, and what remains looks like a potential majority for either a second referendum or for Norway Plus.  Given a choice between the two, we would plump for the latter.  But we firmly believe the Government can avoid having to make it, by opting instead for the managed no deal that a mass of Cabinet Ministers and leadership candidates are now preparing to push for.

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Chris White: A guide to what could happen in the Commons this week

Chris White was Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, when the latter served as Chief Whip, as well as to Andrew Lansley and William Hague when each served as Leader of the House. He is now Managing Director of Newington Communications.

On Tuesday, the Government will face its toughest test – trying to get its Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. Eight hours of debate will be followed by a series of votes that will decide the future of the UK, as well as the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. The stakes could not be higher.

Over 100 Conservative MPs have publicly declared they will vote against the Theresa May’s deal. Yet it is important to remember that there might not even be a vote on the deal. Equally, an amendment could pass which if won, would mean no vote on the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement. Below I set out what could happen, as well as translate what the motions actually mean.

The Government caves in and changes the Parliamentary business, or fails to move the vote, because it knows it is going to lose

The numbers look terrible for the Government, and there have been no MPs who have publicly swapped sides to endorse the Prime Minister’s deal. The reality of the situation is that the Government knows that it is going to lose, and so could decide to pull the vote and seek state that it accepts it won’t get it through Parliament. Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, took the highly unusual step of recommending this in the media. This would be highly embarrassing, but would avoid a humiliating defeat, with the Prime Minister forced to go back to Brussels to renegotiate. There are two ways of doing this:

  • Emergency Business Statement: The Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, either on Monday or Tuesday at the start of Parliamentary business, makes a statement changing the business for the day, pulling the last day of debate and the votes.
  • The Government Minister winding up the debate ‘talks out’ the votes: The business motion for the debate has been cleverly drafted – under section 10 (c), only a Minister may move a closure, which basically means if they are still standing and speaking at the end of the debate, the votes won’t be moved.

An amendment to the Government motion is passed, politically changing the deal

In the table below I’ve listed the 13 amendments tabled so far by MPs. Of these, six will be selected by the Speaker – it’s not certain which he will select, but some have more chance than others – my current thinking is amendments (a) (b) (i) (k) (l) and (m). It’s unlikely that the official Labour one would succeed – amendment (a) – as Tory MPs and the DUP won’t support it, and of the others:

Hilary Benn – amendment (i) explicitly rejects the UK leaving on no deal, and demands the Government move straight to the final Parliamentary debate under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Act. This is the one which the Government lost a vote on last week, which basically means that Parliament is able to direct Government politically which course of action it should pursue. Whilst this isn’t binding under legislation, and the Government could still theoretically leave under no deal terms, it would be politically challenging to do so.

Backbench Conservative – there are three motions which seek to do similar things (b) (e) and (f) – force the Government to place a time limit on the NI backstop, or to reject the backstop. Even if this passed, the UK Government would have to seek agreement from the EU.

Liberal Democrat – amendment (l) calls on the UK Government to hold a second referendum. This would require primary legislation, and even if passed swiftly, such a referendum could not be held within the next 5 months because of the time needed to organise.

No amendments are passed, but the main Government motion fails as well

In this scenario, all votes fail, and the Commons fails to both pass the Withdrawal Agreement, and direct the Government what to do next. This would be hugely damaging to the Prime Minister. Under the EU Withdrawal Act the Government has 21 days to make a statement to the Commons setting out what it plans to do next, and within seven days of that statement the Government must bring forward a motion for the House to consider. This motion can now be amended following the Government’s defeat next week, and the Commons would be able to express a view on what to do next, though this would not be binding on the Government.

What could happen next?

If the Government motion fails, and all amendments fail, then there are several things that might happen:

  • May could face a vote of no confidence in the Commons. Kier Starmer has said that Labour would table a vote, but with the DUP stating that they would support the Conservatives in such a vote, this is unlikely to succeed. If the Government did fall, there would be 14 days for another Government to win a vote of confidence in the Commons, or the country will have a General Election.
  • Conservative MPs put in 48 letters, and the party has to have a confidence vote in the Prime Minister. If 48 letters go in, this would require a swift vote of confidence, where May must win more than 50 per cemt of the 315 eligible MPs. If she lost, the party then has to elect a new leader. Given the incredibly short timescale before 29th March, the Conservative Party would be signing its own death warrant to do this.
  • Labour tries to table a censure motion about May – this is effectively a personal vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, which is what happened recently to Chris Grayling. This would potentially allow Tory MPs to vote against the May without bringing down the Government. However the Government is under no obligation to provide time for an Opposition Day before Christmas, so this is unlikely to happen.
  • The Prime Minister goes to negotiate with Brussels and brings back an amended deal. This would then require the Government to win a vote on its renegotiated deal, using the procedure outlined above.
    If no negotiated deal can pass through the Commons the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

My best guess is that if the Government doesn’t pull the vote, then none of the amendments or the main motion will pass. The Government will then be forced to return to Brussels and try and renegotiate, whilst no-confidence motions in the Government or the Prime Minister are unlikely to succeed due to the dire situation the Tory Party would find itself in. What happens next will depend on whether the Prime Minister can remove either the backstop, or insert a time limit on it, in order for the deal to satisfy enough Tory MPs.

List of amendments before the House – Green means likely to be selected by the Speaker for voting, yellow means a reasonable chance of being selected.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-12-09-at-18.22.37 Chris White: A guide to what could happen in the Commons this week Theresa May MP Sir Keir Starmer MP Sir Graham Brady MP Parliamentary Conservative Party Parliament Liberal Democrats Labour Keith Starmer MP House of Commons (general) Hilary Benn MP Highlights Europe DUP Conservatives Comment Andrea Leadsom MP   Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-12-09-at-18.22.09 Chris White: A guide to what could happen in the Commons this week Theresa May MP Sir Keir Starmer MP Sir Graham Brady MP Parliamentary Conservative Party Parliament Liberal Democrats Labour Keith Starmer MP House of Commons (general) Hilary Benn MP Highlights Europe DUP Conservatives Comment Andrea Leadsom MP
Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-12-09-at-18.22.37 Chris White: A guide to what could happen in the Commons this week Theresa May MP Sir Keir Starmer MP Sir Graham Brady MP Parliamentary Conservative Party Parliament Liberal Democrats Labour Keith Starmer MP House of Commons (general) Hilary Benn MP Highlights Europe DUP Conservatives Comment Andrea Leadsom MP   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com