Brexit deal could be nudged through with a 'judicious tweak'

Brexit deal could be nudged through with a 'judicious tweak'

Kenneth Drake
January 9, 2019

The Commons amendment, tabled by Labour's Yvette Cooper, is created to limit the Treasury's ability to spend money on no-deal preparations, without the explicit consent of Parliament.

Their goal is to ensure that a "no deal" Brexit could only be delivered with the explicit consent of Parliament - something that is unlikely, given that a majority of lawmakers oppose such an outcome.

The government lost the vote by 296 votes to 303, with six former cabinet ministers - Ken Clarke, Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Nicky Morgan - defying party orders and siding with Labour.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who turned round and applauded Cooper in the chamber as the defeat was announced, said: "This vote is an important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit".

Britain is heading for "uncharted territory", with Brexit potentially being cancelled if MPs vote down Theresa May's Brexit deal later this month, the prime minister said today.

The concept of the backstop - an agreement governing the customs status of the Ireland/Northern Ireland border in the event that Britain and the European Union can not agree a long-term relationship by the end of 2021 - has been the main sticking point preventing Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement from being passed by Parliament.

He added that if that occurred we should demand legal assurances and "some sort of undertaking on a free trade deal", saying: "This will get very, very sticky, very close to the end, that is what will happen".

The prime minister has said she is seeking "political and legal reassurances" over the use of a temporary arrangement created to keep the border with Ireland open after Brexit by aligning Britain with European Union trade rules. She said she's "still working on" that but confirmed the delayed vote will go ahead as planned, around January 15.

The Brexit deal took almost 2 years to negotiate and only covers separation issues, leaving open the future relationship - but it has provoked anger on all sides in London.

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Liam Fox, the global trade secretary, called the amendment "irresponsible" as it would tie the hands of the government.

"The backstop remains the poison which makes any vote for the Withdrawal Agreement so toxic", DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds said in a statement on Sunday.

"Everyone recognizes that Brexit is an existential threat to the United Kingdom automotive industry and we hope a practical solution will prevail", he said, calling for lawmakers to support May's deal to guarantee a transition period.

Many Conservative MPs continue to believe the deal does not represent the Brexit the country voted for, and some are actively calling for Britain to leave with no deal. "I think it's those kind of assurances we are happy to give".

Even if you are just wanting to get a better deal, you must be prepared.

However, as MPs prepare to return to Westminster with a crunch vote looming on an withdrawal agreement thrashed out with Brussels, the prime minister said no alternative plan was able to respect the 2016 referendum result, protect jobs and provide certainty to citizens and businesses.

Effectively this constrains the government's ability to act to keep its taxation system working smoothly if it pursues a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of a majority in parliament.

"We will not allow a no-deal exit to occur at the end of March".

Last month, May pulled a vote on the brokered withdrawal agreement, settled on in November after more than a year of back-and-forth negotiations between London and Brussels, acknowledging it would have been roundly rejected by the UK's lower chamber House of Commons.