Brexit Update: 25 March 2019

Brexit Live Updates

Update, 11th April 2019


Following the Emergency Summit between the Prime Minister and the EU27 on April 10, the European Union Leaders granted a six-month “flexible extension” to Brexit until October 31. The extension can be terminated at an earlier date if the withdrawal agreement is passed, but until then, the UK will retain full EU membership rights and obligations.


As a full member of the EU, we are required to participate in the European Elections taking place on May 23, unless the Prime Minister’s deal is passed by a majority before May 21. Although the Prime Minister has recently engaged in cross party talks with senior Labour members in a bid to end the current Brexit deadlock, feedback from these talks indicate a compromise has not been reached and limited progress made as both parties are sticking to their ‘red lines’.


You can read more about the ongoing talks following the link:


If cross-party progression remains stagnant, it is unlikely the Prime Minister’s deal will gain the support it requires making it highly likely  European Elections will take place.  We, at Change UK – The Independent Group therefore launched our European Parliament election campaign on Tuesday April 23rd, fielding candidates across all areas of the country. You can find out more about our launch event following the link:

Update 9th April 2019

Following a third defeat of the Prime Minister’s deal, Theresa May confirmed she would write to Donald Tusk to request an extension to A50 until 30 June. The request will be discussed by EU leaders at an emergency summit called by Donald Tusk tomorrow, Wednesday 10th April. It is likely that the EU will propose an alternative length for an extension; whatever the proposed extension, it will need unanimous backing from every EU member state.

Update April 2nd-8th 2019

On April 2, the Prime Minister made a statement in which she offered to enter talks with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour party to break the Brexit deadlock . If a compromise deal is reached, in theory, MPs will be given a vote on any proposed deal. If a compromise cannot be reached, which seems to be increasingly likely, the Prime Minister has suggested that a range of alternative options will be voted on by MPs to decide on a binding way forward. It seems likely that the options may include a 2nd referendum, some alternative deal, No-Deal Brexit or ervocation of Article 50.

Alongside this, on Wednesday 3 April, MPs debated all stages of a cross-party Bill tabled by Sir Oliver Letwin and Yvette Cooper. I added my name in support of this Bill.

The Bill required the Prime Minister to further extend Article 50 to ensure the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal "by default" on April 12, the current extended deadline.

Votes on the Bill in the Commons at its third reading concluded at 313 to 312. The Bill passed the third reading stage in the Lords 280-46 on 8th April and returned to the Commons; the Commons accepted the bill and it has now been granted royal assent and will become law.

Once we know the outcome of the EU emergency summit tomorrow, there will be a clearer understanding of the logistical options open to us, depending on whether an extension is granted by the EU and what length of extension is approved.

Update, April 1 2019


On Friday 29 March, the Prime Minister asked the House to vote on a motion related to her Withdrawal Agreement but crucially , leaving out the political declaration. For a third time, it was voted down by 344 to 286.


Following three defeats, the Prime Minister must now accept her deal will not be accepted by parliament. If she is so determined that this is the best deal we can reach with the EU, in my view, the only way out of this impasse, is to put it to the people by way of a confirmatory vote. 

However, tonight, following the passing of the Letwin amendment,  referred to below, the second phase of indicative votes will take place. As on Wednesday 27th, MPs will have the opportunity to vote for, or against, the following motions selected by the speaker:


Motion C – Customs Union

Tabled by Ken Clarke, this seeks for the government to agree a Brexit deal with the EU that includes the UK remaining in a permanent customs union with the bloc.


Motion D – Common Market 2.0

Tabled by Nick Boles, this proposes that the UK negotiates membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA).


Motion E – Confirmatory public vote

Tabled by Peter Kyle, this demands a public vote to ratify any Brexit deal.


Motion G – Parliamentary supremacy

Tabled by Joanna Cherry, this seeks an extension to the Brexit process, and if this is not possible then parliament will vote to support either a no-deal, or the revocation of article 50.


I, along with my colleagues in The Independent Group, will be supporting Motion (E) Confirmatory Public Vote and (G) Parliamentary Supremacy. 

Why I voted as I did.....

On the face of it, Common Market 2 - or single market plus customs union does look appealing. It is certainly superior to a Customs Union alone which would not deal with the no hard border requirements in Irelan. A tariff agreement alone would not provide for regulatory alignment, which is essential too to avoid that hard border.

But Common Market has serious flaws - we would be rule takers not makers, literally a voiceless country with no say on laws, tariffs or standards, no seat at the MEP table, utterly impotent in terms of decision making now and in the future. I cannot believe the British public would find this acceptable and it would certainly infuriate those who voted for a clean Brexit. The other big issue, is that to be in EFTA, the founding country members would have to let us in and Norway have made it abundantly clear that they don't want us!

You will be only too aware that we have huge, pressured decisions to make as MPs, requiring us to weigh up the pros and cons at all times. It isn't easy and there was heated and passionate debate on the day of these votes.

But I want to assure you, that as the interim leader of Change UK - The Independent Group, I will always put our country first and exercise my best judgment and responsibilities with the utmost care, consideration and seriousness at all times.

Update, 28 March 2019

Last night a series of indicative votes took place to identify what options had support in the House. Please see below for a fuller explanation of each amendment/option.


MPs were able to indicate their preferences using printed voting forms rather than using the voting lobbies.


I voted FOR L and M.


The results of the votes were as follows:

Amendment (B) – No Deal

Ayes: 160

Noes: 400

Amendment (D) Common Market 2.0

Ayes: 188

Noes: 283

Amendment (H) EEA/EFTA

Ayes: 65

Noes: 377

Amendment (J) Customs Union

Ayes: 264

Noes: 272

Amendment (K) Labour Plan

Ayes: 237

Noes: 307

Amendment (L) Revocation to avoid no deal

Ayes: 184

Noes: 293

Amendment (M) Confirmatory Public Vote

Ayes: 268

Noes: 295

Amendment (O) Contingent preferential arrangements

Ayes: 139

Noes: 422


The two motions that received the most support, and more support than the Prime Minister’s deal were: amendment J, Customs Union, and Amendment M, Confirmatory Public Vote. There has been criticism over the fact that no options received a majority, however that was never the expectation, last night was simply about whittling down the options. 


I, with colleagues, am now working hard to find a compromise solution between the MPs who supported the Customs Union and People’s Vote options.  Tomorrow, we  will table Business Motion amendment proposals accordingly in preparation for the debate on Monday. The Letwin amendment as detailed below has allowed Parliament to have a further day to control business in the House of Commons.


Last night, the House also successfully voted through the Statutory Instrument (secondary legislation) necessary to remove 29th March from our legislation. This now confirms without a shadow of a doubt that we are "safe." We will NOT be crashing out on 29th March. The result was a clear majority of 441 to 105.


In today’s business statement, the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom suggested the Government is likely to bring the Withdrawal Agreement back to the House tomorrow, but without the Political Declaration.  This is NOT Meaningful Vote Three as the Speaker has already ruled he would not allow this.


We are at this stage unclear as to whether the Government has the legal grounds to split out the EU negotiations in this way.


As always the situation remains extremely fluid; I will keep this page updated with the latest developments as often as I can!

Update, 27 March 2019

As you are aware, on Monday, parliament voted in favour of taking control of the parliamentary business on Wednesday 27 by supporting the Letwin amendment. This has finally given MPs the opportunity to work together and find a consensus to resolve the current impasse.

There were sixteen amendments tabled and the speaker has announced that eight will be voted on this evening.

I have added my name in support of two amendments: (L) Revocation to avoid no deal and (M) Confirmatory public vote. Here follows an explanation of both these amendments:

Amendment (L) - Revocation to avoid no deal

Tabled by Joanna Cherry – this amendment proposes that if the government does not pass its Withdrawal Agreement, it would have to stage a vote on a no-deal Brexit two sitting days before the scheduled date of departure. If MPs refuse to authorise a no deal, the PM would have to halt Brexit by revoking article 50.

Amendment (M) - Confirmatory Public Vote

Tabled by Margaret Beckett – this amendment demands a public vote to confirm any Brexit deal passed by parliament before its ratification.

The remaining six amendments which have been selected are as follows:

Amendment (B) - No Deal

Tabled by John Baron – this amendment proposes leaving the EU without a deal on 12 April.

Amendment (D) - Commons Market 2.0

Tabled by Nicholas Boles – this amendment proposes UK membership of the EFTA and EEA. It allows continued participation in the single market and a “comprehensive customs arrangement” with the EU after Brexit, which would remain in place until the agreement of a wider trade deal which guarantees frictionless movement of goods and an open border in Ireland.

Amendment (H) - EEA/EFTA without customs union

Tabled by George Eustice – this amendment proposes remaining within the EEA and re-joining EFTA but remaining outside a customs union with the EU.

Amendment (J) - Customs Union

Tabled by Ken Clarke - This amendment requires the commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” in any Brexit deal.

Amendment (K) – Labour’s alternative plan

Tabled by the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn – this amendment proposes a close economic relationship with the EU. The plan includes a comprehensive customs union with a UK say on future trade deals; close alignment with the single market; matching new EU rights and protections; participation in EU agencies and funding programmes; and agreement on future security arrangements, including access to the European arrest warrant.

Amendment (O) – Contingent preferential arrangements

Tabled by Marcus Fysh – this amendment calls for the Government to seek to agree preferential trade arrangements with the EU, in case the UK is unable to implement a Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc.

Update, 26 March 2019

The Prime Minister announced yesterday, in her statement to the House, that she did not believe her deal would command enough support to bring it back for a third attempt this week, as was originally indicated. However she did imply she was hoping to build support by the end of the week, in order to bring the vote back at a later date. I remain unconvinced that her deal, unless substantially altered, will ever pass the House. 


Last night, at long last, MPs, myself included, voted in favour of taking control of parliamentary business by supporting the Letwin amendment. The vote was won by a considerable margin of 329 votes to 302. Indeed, three Ministers resigned and thirty Conservative MPs voted against the Government in order to support this vital  amendment. This amendment is an incredibly important tool as it will enable Parliament to work together to find a consensus to resolve the current impasse.


The Letwin amendment will allow MPs to debate and vote on a range of options, tomorrow, Wednesday 27th March. These options are likely to include a Norway Plus type deal, "no deal", revocation of Article 50 and a further public vote. We do not know at this stage the full range of options that backbenchers will bring forward, nor how these "indicative votes" will conclude. 


I anticipate I will support options that would allow the public to vote on what ever "deal" Parliament can coalesce around, with an alternative option of course, to remain in the EU. I will also be sympathetic to revocation amendments, though appreciate this would be an incredibly difficult political decision for many MPs to take, and likely only if faced with the threat of "no deal" at all.


Whilst I am of course relieved MPs will finally have the opportunity to find a way through this Brexit impasse, I find it totally unacceptable that we have had to fight so hard to be able to do so. 

Please do come back and check this web page regularly as I will post as often as I can!



Update, 25 March 2019

The Prime Minister’s deal has already been defeated twice, and the Speaker’s ruling on March 18, that she will not be able to bring it back unless it is “fundamentally different” means it is very unlikely to be passed. As I do not expect it to be fundamentally changed, I will, for a third time, vote against it. My reasons for this can be found here:


However, such is the nervousness in the Government, it is not at this stage clear whether they will indeed bring the deal back this week, if at all. Press reports suggest some Conservative Brexit MPs may offer their support conditional on her resignation. Their motive is clear. They would try and install a hard Brexit MP as Prime Minister, which would confirm my fears regarding the non-legally binding nature of the future Political Declaration. Hard Prime Minister = hard no deal Brexit.


Although the short extension secured on 21st of March means the United Kingdom does not have to leave the EU on 29 March, it will require the Government to bring forward a short piece of secondary legislation – an SI or Statutory Instrument. The SI will ensure that domestic legislation remains compliant with EU Law until exit day, both houses will need to agree it. The decision of the EU council, as it stands, means that we will remain a Member state until the end of April; the house will not be able to change this. The SI should be forthcoming this week.


We expect to hear from the Prime Minister today, at around 3.30pm. We do not yet know whether she will confirm her deal is returning to the House today or later this week. Nor do we yet know whether the Government will try and control the process of indicative votes. The situation is uncharted and very fluid.


However, in preparation for the debate and vote today, backbench MPs have tabled seven amendments tabled to the Government’s motion, including one by The Independent Group.


Here follows an explanation of the four amendments I have added my name to in support.

(You can view all the tabled amendments from page 6 here: )


Amendment (a) – Sir Oliver Letwin

This would allow MPs to take control of Parliamentary business on Wednesday 27th. If this amendment were to pass, it would finally allow a series of indicative votes to take place and identify what holds a majority in Parliament. It is essential that this amendment passes so Parliament can voice their opinion on all available options. We will be relying on Remain supporting Ministers to vote with us.


Amendment (c) – Yvette Cooper

This rejects a no- deal Brexit and demands the government to set out how they will ensure that the UK does not crash out of the EU on April 12 without a Withdrawal Agreement. This includes seeking a further extension to Article 50 to account for any conclusions reached by the house through indicative votes.


Amendment (e) – The Independent Group

Demands the Prime Minister to immediately begin preparations for legislating for, and conducting a public vote allowing the people of the UK vote to either leave or remain in the EU.


Amendment (g) - Sir Vince Cable

This calls for an extension of Article 50 for a two year period for the purpose of a second referendum allowing, the people to vote leave or remain.


This means the Letwin amendment is absolutely fundamental tonight.


I hope this helps clarify my stance on the current situation and as usual, I will keep my Twitter and website updated as regularly as possible.


Once again, I would like to emphasise that I will continue to act in the best interests of my constituents and country throughout these difficult times.


Update, 21 March 2019

The Prime Minister returned to Brussels to discuss the extension requested in her letter of 20th March. Two key dates were agreed by the EU27: May 22nd and April 12th.


The EU have agreed that if the Prime Minister is able to get her deal through Parliament week commencing 25th of March, they will allow an extension until May 22nd, the day before the European elections. If her deal is rejected for a third time, an extension will only be granted until April 12th. This is the last day the UK can pass legislation to take part in the European elections.


Update, 20 March 2019

The Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk to request an extension of Article 50 until 30th June 2019.

That evening she also made a Brexit address to the nation from Downing Street. I and colleagues were utterly shocked that the Prime Minister had the gall to lay the blame for the current national crisis at the feet of MPs. The Prime Minister argued that Parliament was very good at voicing what they did not want, without explaining what they do want. This is exactly what Parliament has been trying to do, in its attempts to secure ownership of a day of Parliamentary business. But time and time again we have been denied the opportunity.


In short - the House of Commons has been unable to coalesce around a solution because the Government has whipped heavily against any backbench attempts to articulate an alternative view.


My frustration with the Government’s procrastination and prevarication against allowing Parliament the opportunity to debate and express an opinion sooner was clear to see during my intervention in the chamber:


Update, 14 March 2019

Parliament voted by 413 to 202, in support of an extension to Article 50 until 30th June 2019.


Update, 13 March 2019

Parliament voted by 321 to 278, against leaving the EU without a deal in place. This reiterated strongly that the majority of The House is in agreement that a ‘No-Deal’ exit would have a detrimental impact on our country. It deeply concerns and frustrates me that members of the ERG continue to actively support a ‘No-Deal’ exit regardless of the impact assessments, published by the Government, which show the catastrophic impact it would have on our country.


Update, 12 March 2019

Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Ministers deal for a second time. As predicted, the deal, on which MPs were asked to vote, contained no significant changes to either the Withdrawal Agreement or the future Political Declaration. Rejection of the Prime Minister’s deal triggered two subsequent motions being laid before The House for MPs to debate and vote on: ‘No Deal’ and extending Article 50.


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