Brexit: Government plans to hold new vote

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MPs will vote again on Brexit today, but it is not clear whether it will be another “meaningful vote” on the PM’s withdrawal deal.

Asked whether the motion would be the “full package”, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said discussion was “ongoing”.

There is speculation that MPs might be asked to vote on the withdrawal agreement but not the further “political declaration”.

Labour said that would lead to the “blindest of blind Brexits”.

The PM’s deal includes a withdrawal agreement – setting out how much money the UK must pay to the EU as a settlement, details of the transition period, and the backstop arrangements – and a political declaration on the way the future EU-UK relationship will work.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said both European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had stressed that the withdrawal agreement and political declaration were part of the same “negotiated package”.

He said to separate them “would mean leaving the EU with absolutely no idea where we are heading … we wouldn’t vote for that”.

Previous “meaningful votes” on the deal involved both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration but Speaker John Bercow has said he would not allow a third “meaningful vote” on “substantially the same” motion as MPs had already rejected by historic margins twice.

The BBC’s Vicki Young said separating the two might get around the Speaker’s ruling but, after Sir Keir’s intervention, looked unlikely to get more votes on board.

Last week the European Council agreed to postpone Brexit beyond the expected date of 29 March – offering an extension until 22 May, if MPs approved the deal negotiated with the EU by the end of this week. If not, it offered a shorter delay until 12 April, allowing the UK time to get the deal through or to “indicate a way forward”.

BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming said the official conclusions from last week’s summit only mention the withdrawal agreement, not the political declaration.

Announcing the government’s intention to table a motion for debate on Friday, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said there would be a motion put forward later “relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

“The motion tabled will comply with the Speaker’s ruling but the only way we ensure we leave in good time on May 22 is by approving the Withdrawal Agreement by 11pm on March 29, which is tomorrow.

“The European Council has agreed to an extension until May 22 provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons this week.

“It’s crucial we make every effort to give effect to that and to allow the House to debate this important issue.”

Her Labour shadow Valerie Vaz asked for “further clarity… on whether this is in fact the meaningful vote three?”

Mrs Leadsom said the motion would be tabled “as soon as possible” and discussions were “ongoing”.

 

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