Sunday 25 August 2019

'Soft Brexit', 'staying in EU' among choices for MPs to vote on in second round of indicative votes

  • Results of indicative votes due at 10.30pm
  • Bercow selected four of the nine Brexit alternative proposals to be considered on day two of the indicative vote process
  • DUP insists it will continue to vote against UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal
  • Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg 'very concerned' that Theresa May will add a customs union onto her Brexit deal
Speaker John Bercow addresses the House of Commons during a Brexit debate ahead of a second round of votes on alternative proposals to the government's Brexit deal. House of Commons/PA Wire
Speaker John Bercow addresses the House of Commons during a Brexit debate ahead of a second round of votes on alternative proposals to the government's Brexit deal. House of Commons/PA Wire
Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Eurosceptic Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate ahead of a second round of votes on alternative proposals to the government's Brexit deal. House of Commons/PA Wire
Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Eurosceptic Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate ahead of a second round of votes on alternative proposals to the government's Brexit deal.House of Commons/PA Wire
A supporter of Brexit holds a sign saying 'Just hoot, we voted leave' while others continue with their daily activities outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues.Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
A supporter of Brexit holds a sign saying 'Just hoot, we voted leave' while others continue with their daily activities outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate ahead of a second round of votes on alternative proposals to the government's Brexit deal. House of Commons/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Commons Speaker John Bercow has selected four of the nine Brexit alternative proposals to be considered on day two of the indicative vote process.

The Democratic Unionist Party has insisted it will continue to vote against UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

The party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told the BBC: "The implications for Northern Ireland are far, far too serious.

"First of all, it would take us away from the country that we fought to stay part of.

"And secondly, it would break us away from the economy on which we are dependent.

"Because, of course, the GB economy is the most important economy given where we export our goods and bring our goods from."

Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

In the wake of Tory chief whip Julian Smith saying the Government should have made it clear that a softer Brexit was inevitable after the 2017 general election, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's not clear to me that going softer is the way to command support."

She added: "If you look at the parliamentary arithmetic now, It's not clear that something like a customs union actually commands support."

Ms Truss said: "I think that we are well prepared for no deal.

"I don't have any fear of no deal."

Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Referring to the chief whip's comment that the Cabinet was the most ill-disciplined in history, Ms Truss said: "It's difficult to compare Cabinets through the ages.

"Of course, this is an incredibly testing time; it's a time when we have got a minority Government.

"And there are differences of opinion, I won't deny that."

Ms Truss said: "The will of Parliament so far has not been in favour of a customs union.

Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

"I think the answer lies in modifications to the Prime Minister's deal to be able to get that to have support."

Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he is "very concerned" that Theresa May will add a customs union onto her Brexit deal.

He told LBC radio: "My concern is that the Prime Minister is more concerned to avoid a no-deal Brexit than anything else.

"And therefore I am very concerned that she could decide to go for a customs union tacked onto her deal."

Mr Rees-Mogg also said Friday's vote on the Brexit deal would "probably have gone through" if it has been Mrs May's deal versus a general election.

A supporter of Brexit holds a sign saying 'Just hoot, we voted leave' while others continue with their daily activities outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
A supporter of Brexit holds a sign saying 'Just hoot, we voted leave' while others continue with their daily activities outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

Conservative MP Steve Baker, who maintained his opposition to Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement in last week's vote, tweeted a thread showing how much Brexiteers had already "compromised" since the referendum.

"1. We are still in the EU nearly 3 years after the Referendum. We accepted the Art 50 route. We then accepted another 18 months of implementation period.

"2. We accepted ECJ jurisdiction over the agreement including over how much we pay and EU citizens rights.

"3. We accepted £39bn as a price to get to trade talks.

"4. We found we had to accept the Number 10 negotiating team negotiating in secrecy.

"5. UK fish were to be treated as outside of the single customs territory for trade purposes as a prelude to fishing rights for trade deal.

Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues.Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Joesph Afrane shows his support for Brexit wearing a Union Jack hat and Union Jack shoes outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues.Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

"6. This was always a bad deal. We compromised and compromised but we were not prepared to accept the threat to our constitution and democracy resulting from the Northern Irish backstop and the acceptance of EU laws over which we would have no say."

European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has described Brexit as a "tragic reality" and urged MPs to find a compromise in Monday evening's votes.

He tweeted: "#Brexit is not a bad April Fool's Joke, but a tragic reality for all our citizens and business.

"It is now five to midnight. Today MPs must find a compromise & stop this chaos.

"This evening, for once voting 'Yes', instead of every time voting 'No'."

Theresa May's official spokesman said that the Prime Minister continues to have full confidence in Chief Whip Julian Smith.

The spokesman declined to discuss whether Mrs May had been informed in advance of Mr Smith's interview with the BBC.

The spokesman was asked at a regular Westminster media briefing whether the PM agreed with Mr Smith that the Government should have been clear after the 2017 election that a "softer" Brexit was now inevitable.

He replied: "In a number of speeches, the Prime Minister made it clear that there was a need to bring the country back together after the Brexit vote. That's what she's been working to achieve."

Asked whether Mrs May shared Mr Smith's assessment that the current Cabinet was the "worst example of ill-discipline in British political history", the spokesman replied: "The Prime Minister has said on any number of occasions that this is a subject which brings out strong emotions in MPs on all sides of the debate.

"I think what's important is that everybody in Government continues to work towards the goal of delivering on the referendum verdict."

He added: "I will leave it to historians to make their judgments on history."

Conservative MPs are to be given a free vote in Monday's round of indicative votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, but Cabinet ministers are being told to abstain, a Downing Street source has said.

The Government will whip against the programme motion enabling the indicative votes process to go ahead.

Ahead of a Commons debate on the petition to revoke Article 50, Labour MP Lisa Nandy shared a list of places where it had received the fewest and most signatures.

At the top were constituencies in several large metropolitan areas in southern England, such as Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge and parts of London.

Meanwhile, northern towns such as Scunthorpe, Burnley, Doncaster and Blackpool were among those at the bottom of the list.

Ms Nandy tweeted: "These are two Englands with differences in experience and outlook that run much deeper than the current divisions over Brexit.

"These areas have had very different experiences of globalisation over recent decades. Towns have lost good jobs and young people have moved away," the MP added.

"Brexit has become a tug of war to decide which of these 'two Englands' will win and which will lose. This is the wrong approach for anyone who wants a future for this country. Neither can be wished away."

Asked if the Government would abide by the will of the Commons if a majority of MPs backed a customs union Brexit option, Digital Minister Margot James told the BBC: "I hope so.

"I think that although we are in strange times, I do hope that the Government will listen to Parliament and act upon its recommendation.

"I do think, though, that it is still quite legitimate for the Government to bring the Prime Minister's deal back, possibly amended in such a way that would attract more votes to its cause

"And, if we think we can get that through, even after - because the votes tonight are just indicative - I think that they could be trumped by the Prime Minister's deal."

Ms James said she was "warming" to the idea of backing a Commons move calling for the PM's deal to be put to a confirmatory referendum.

The Digital Minister said: "I'm considering voting for it. I didn't vote for it last time. I abstained last time.

"I do not want another referendum. I've resisted it for several years now and I'm very reluctant, but if we could get it through, then... yes, I'm warming towards it."

Labour is to support the Common Market 2.0 option for Brexit in Monday's indicative votes in the House of Commons, as well as other options which the party backed last week.

A Labour spokesman said: "In line with our policy, we're supporting motions to keep options on the table to prevent a damaging Tory deal or no deal, build consensus across the House to break the deadlock and deliver an outcome that can work for the whole country."

Theresa May and her senior ministers are to meet for five hours on Tuesday, with a political Cabinet in the absence of civil servants from 9am until noon, followed by a full Cabinet from 1pm-3pm.

Conservative MP Nick Boles said he was pleased Labour would be supporting his motion during tonight's indicative votes.

He tweeted: "Very good to see Labour giving its official support for Common Market 2.0. It comes closer to Labour's stated policy than any other Brexit compromise and now has a real chance of winning the majority that has eluded the PM."

Theresa May's EU Withdrawal Agreement is "unlikely" to be put before MPs for a fourth time on Tuesday, a Government source said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has rejected a Labour claim that her party was in negotiations with them on the Common Market 2.0 model.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock earlier said he and colleagues were trying to win the DUP's support for the proposal.

"No, we are not in any discussions," she said.

"It's quite funny actually, I think if we talk to other MPs now we are in 'intensive negotiations' with these people - so, no we are not in any discussions with the Labour Party."

She said her party would make a decision on the indicative votes once the Speaker selected which proposals would be put to a vote.

The DUP abstained on the Common Market 2.0 model in last week's votes. Mrs Foster said there would be "no surprises" in the DUP's position on Monday night.

Mrs Foster also rejected reports that there was a 7-3 split among her party's MPs, with three in favour of Mrs May's withdrawal agreement.

"No there's no splits within the Democratic Unionist Party," she said. "I'm not quite sure where that's coming from."

Asked if the party would accept a softer Brexit if it was without a backstop, she told a press conference in Belfast: "We have a very simple way of judging all of this. It's what will protect the Union and what will respect the referendum result and that's always been our position.

"We have been very clear about our one red line and that remains the position. It's of no surprise to anyone that the Union will always be our first priority and that still remains the case."

Asked if she would prefer staying in the EU to the current withdrawal deal, she replied: "We do not like the current withdrawal agreement - I think everyone is very much aware of that - and the reason we don't like it is because of the backstop issue, the fact that it separates Northern Ireland out from the rest of the United Kingdom, puts an internal border within the United Kingdom and makes us subject to rules and regulations which the rest of the United Kingdom will not be subject to, without having any say in those rules and regulations.

"As I say, we will judge everything by what protects the Union and what protects the referendum result."

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