Theresa May has urged MPs to give her “the clearest possible mandate” to go back to Brussels and reopen Brexit negotiations with the aim of replacing the controversial backstop.
Opening a crucial day of debate in the House of Commons, Mrs May said MPs had made clear what they did not want when they rejected her Withdrawal Agreement by a 230-vote margin earlier this month, but now it was time for them to tell Brussels what they do want.
She called for them to send an “emphatic message” to the EU by backing an amendment tabled by Tory grandee Graham Brady which would require her to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
And she told them: “If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit.”
Despite what she acknowledged was a “limited appetite” in Europe for reopening talks, she insisted: “I believe with a mandate from this House… I can secure such a change in advance of our departure from the EU.”
Earlier in the day the so called battle lines for Brexit’s Super Tuesday showdown in the UK’s Commons had been drawn. Commons Speaker John Bercow has selected a series of amendments for votes by British MPs to shape the next stage of the process of leaving the European Union.
Any successful amendments will not have the force of law, but will carry heavy political weight as a signal to Downing Street and Brussels of what kind of Brexit MPs are likely to approve.
Here are the amendments which have been selected:
Brake on the backstop – Tabled by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Mrs May said approving it would give her a clear mandate to demand changes from Brussels to the Withdrawal Agreement.
Taking control – Jeremy Corbyn has thrown Labour’s weight behind a move by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, supported by Tories such as Nick Boles, for a new Bill to delay Brexit in order to allow more time to reach a deal.
The move would give Parliament control over the Brexit process if Mrs May fails to secure a deal by February 26. MPs would get a vote on delaying Brexit to the end of the year and preventing a no-deal exit under the terms of the Bill – although the Labour leadership would seek a shorter extension to Article 50.
Grieve amendment – In a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit, the cross-party backed proposal from former attorney general Dominic Grieve would effectively wrest control of Commons business from the Government for six individual days in the run-up to the UK’s scheduled withdrawal date of March 29 with the intention of getting MPs to reach a consensus on how to handle it.
No to no deal – A cross-party effort headed by Tory Dame Caroline Spelman rejects the UK quitting the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. But Mrs May told MPs: “Unless we’re to end up with no Brexit at all, the only way to avoid no deal is to agree a deal.”
Labour’s twin track approach – The official Labour amendment calls for MPs to be able to vote on options to stop a no-deal exit, such as a customs union with the EU, as well as the possibility of a new Brexit referendum. Mr Corbyn has been careful not to commit Labour to officially back such a poll, though.
The SNP amendment – Ian Blackford’s amendment, also backed by Plaid Cymru, calls for an extension to Article 50, the rejection of a no-deal Brexit and states that “the people of Scotland should not be taken out of the EU against their will.
via Press Association