Potential timing of the meaningful vote
- Mrs May told MPs that the clear concern over the Irish backstop proposals would have led to her deal being rejected “by a significant margin” (which is widely understood to have been by over 100 votes).
- The House of Commons officials have confirmed on Twitter that the latest possible date for a meaningful vote by MPs on the withdrawal agreement is 28 March, the day before the UK is due to leave the EU.
- The Prime Minister told MPs that there was a deadline of holding the vote by 21 January 2019. However, the FT reports that this date seemed to be based on a misreading of a clause in Brexit legislation which only applies if no deal has been reached between the UK and the EU.
- The Speaker of the Commons told MPs he had no powers to compel ministers to seek the opinion of MPs as the government was within its rights to “unilaterally” defer the vote but said it was “unfortunate” they had chosen not to and was “deeply discourteous” to MPs.
Reaction to ECJ ruling that UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50
- Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay says the government “notes the judgement from the European Court of Justice” but says it “does not in any way change our policy” following the ECJ’s ruling that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 and remain a fully fledged EU member state including all existing rights, which for the UK would include its rebate, opt outs and the pound, provided the revocation occurred during the two year Article 50 time limit or any agreed transition period. The ECJ ruled that the member state would have to write to the EU to notify them of the “unequivocal and unconditional” decision.
Reaction to May’s move to delay the meaningful vote
- Arlene Foster, DUP leader, said the deal was “fundamentally flawed” and leave Northern Ireland as a “hostage” to the EU. She added “It is not needed. No one is building a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
- Jacob Rees-Mogg says “We cannot continue like this. The prime minister must either govern or quit”.
- Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the CBI, said the delay in the vote is “yet another blow for companies desperate for clarity.” and that “unless a deal is agreed quickly, the country risks sliding towards a national crisis”.
- Jason Groves, the Daily Mail Political Editor tweeted: Asked if the PM can give a ‘pinky promise’ she won’t delay Brexit as well, No 10 says: “We are not going to extend Article 50…but we don’t pinky promise.”
- The Independent Chief Political Commentator tweeted: Baffled by May’s defence of backstop: “necessary guarantee to people of N Ireland” followed by “we hope it’ll never come into effect”.
- Andrea Leadsom confirmed the government will publish the White Paper for the Immigration Bill before the end of the year.
- At the end of the London trading day, sterling was down against the dollar at an 18 month low of $1.249.
- Theresa May to meet EU leaders in bid to rescue deal (BBC): The Prime Minister will hold talks witch the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, after postponing MPs’ final vote on the deal earlier. Mrs May said she needs “further assurances” about the Northern Ireland backstop. Donald Tusk, European Council President, said leaders would discuss how to help “facilitate ratification” but would “not renegotiate” the deal. Meanwhile Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, said it was not possible to renegotiate the backstop without “opening up all aspects” of the deal. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has secured a three hour emergency debate on Tuesday to challenge the government’s postponement of the vote. Following Mrs May’s move to delay the vote, Crispin Blunt became the 26th Conservative MP to submit a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
- Jeremy Corbyn resists calls to launch vote of no confidence (FT): The SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, Greens and letters from 38 Labour MPs have all urged Mr Corbyn to trigger a vote of no confidence following the prime minister’s move to delay the meaningful vote. A Labour spokesperson said “we will put down a motion of no confidence when we judge it most likely to be successful.”
- May’s Brexit deal ‘worse for trade than status quo’ (FT): A report by the Commons cross-party business committee said that after taking evidence from businesses in recent weeks it could not find even one company that thought the prime minister’s deal was better than the status quo. However, many companies did support the deal as it at least removed the possibility of the “catastrophic consequences” of a no-deal Brexit. Businesses main concern about the political declaration was that it offered a “blind Brexit”, a permanent UK-EU relationship which could be as distant as a Canada style free trade deal or as close as Norway’s membership of the single market.