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British parliament orders May government to come up with Brexit plan B

10 January 2019
British parliament orders May government to come up with Brexit plan B

Theresa May's Brexit strategy was in deep crisis after she suffered the second heavy Commons defeat in less than 24 hours to her proposals.

Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South and a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "The threat of a no deal Brexit has cynically used by the government for many months as part of their campaign to bully and intimidate Parliament into voting for a bad deal that would leave us worse off and offers less control".

MPs want to intervene to prevent this from happening, and they narrowly voted on Tuesday for an amendment that would curtail the government's tax powers in the event of no deal. "I'm sorry but there is a distinction between a motion and an amendment", declared Mr Bercow, at which Mr Francois yelled "ridiculous" and "utter sophistry".

So even if May came back with a plan B within the given three days, MPs have the power to change it.

In a twist, David Mundell yesterday intervened to suggest that the PM could in fact win next week's vote on her Brexit Plan but, if she did not, he raised the prospect that the same deal could be put again to MPs.

Ms. May has already delayed the vote once, hoping to win more concessions from the European Union that would make her agreement more palatable to Tory rebels.

Speaking to MPs earlier, May said: "The only way to avoid no deal is to vote for the deal".

It is likely to prompt an angry response in Brussels, which has repeatedly rejected efforts to put a time limit on the backstop, meant to avoid a hard border in Ireland if no wider trade deal has been agreed.

By convention, only ministers can change a business motion.

Mr Grieve had tabled the amendment Tuesday night after pro-EU MPs had passed an amendment to the Finance Bill created to prohibit spending on No Deal preparations without authorisation from Parliament - which is dominated by Remainers and largely opposed to No Deal.

Wednesday´s amendment, which passed by 308 votes to 297, has more weight.

Alongside the Remain-backing former attorney general in the Aye lobby were former ministers Nick Boles, Kenneth Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah, Jo Johnson, Phillip Lee, Sir Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Anna Soubry and Ed Vaizey as well as Heidi Allen, Antoinette Sandbach and Sarah Wollaston and Brexit-backing Andrew Mitchell.

MPs have just begun five days of debate on the Brexit agreement ahead of the crunch vote on January 15. A No 10 spokesman insisted the government had received clear advice that suggested the motion was not amendable.

"It is the long-established practice of this House that the Speaker in the chair makes judgments on the selection of amendments, and those judgments are not questioned by members of the House", he said.

"That is what I have tried to do and what I will go on doing".

"I disagree with that, and so I think do the vast majority of members of parliament".

Mrs Leadsom said Mr Bercow's future was a matter for him but asked if she was questioning his impartiality, she said she had the "greatest regard" for the office of Speaker.

70% of Tory MPs believe that the UK would be able to quickly strike trade deals with the likes of the United States and China, and 58% of them are confident that such new trade deals would more than compensate for any lost European Union trade.

However, France's Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau said "there is nothing more that we can do" - and warned against putting too much faith in talk of extending Article 50.

But the Speaker brushed her request aside, saying advice was given to him "privately and that's absolutely proper".

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, foreground, speaks, during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, Jan. 9, 2019.