Saturday 17 August 2019

Brexit multiple choice again: How will UK parliament's indicative votes work?

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons (Photo by HO / PRU / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons (Photo by HO / PRU / AFP)

Kylie MacLellan

British MPs will wrest control of the Brexit process for a second day on Monday in order to try to find a majority for an alternative way forward that could break the parliamentary deadlock over Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed deal.

The first phase of so-called indicative votes held on March 27 did not show majority support for any options, but lawmakers hope a second round, likely on a narrower range of options, could see parliament coalesce behind a way forward.

Since the last round of votes, May's deal has been rejected for a third time.

Below is how the process will work:

How will MPs vote?

The voting is expected to work in the same way as it did last week, when the options selected by the Speaker were printed on a ballot paper and lawmakers were asked to vote "aye" or "no" to each of them. They were able to vote for as many of the proposals as they wished.

What time will the result be announced?

The debate is due to end at 1900 GMT and lawmakers will then be given 30 minutes to record their votes.

The Speaker will announce the results once they have been counted. Last week this took just over two hours.

Do the government have to accept the result?

The votes are not binding on the government, but Justice minister David Gauke said on Sunday that it would have to "consider very carefully the will of parliament."

Asked if May would have to go back to Brussels and seek a customs union if parliament voted for it, Gauke said: "If parliament is voting overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union without a deal but is voting in favour of a softer Brexit, then I don’t think it is sustainable to say we will ignore parliament’s position and leave without a deal."

Oliver Letwin, the Conservative lawmaker behind the process of votes, has previously said that if parliament succeeded in finding a majority for a way forward, he hoped the government would accept that outcome but if it did not, then lawmakers would bring forward legislation seeking to force it to do so.

He has set out plans for lawmakers to take control of parliamentary time again on April 3.


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