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Brexit - Amendments & Possible outcomes

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This evening (29.01.2019) the UK government will once again sit down to discuss the UK’s withdrawal agreement from the EU. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two years since the UK voted to leave the EU, and there is still no agreement on a withdrawal plan. There have been 19 amendments proposed amendments to Theresa May’s withdrawal plan out of which the House of Commons Speaker, Mr. John Bercow has selected seven amendments to be voted on this evening by MPs.

So, what are the proposed amendments?


1. The Cooper amendment has been proposed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper. It suggests that if no Brexit deal has been reached by 26 February 2019, the government must postpone the UK’s departure from the EU until 31 December 2019.

2. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's amendment calls on the government to rule out a possible "no deal" scenario. He has asked for an alternative Brexit deal, to include Labour's plans for a permanent customs union.

3. SNP leader Ian Blackford's amendment calls for an extension of Article 50 and asked for the possibility of a "no deal" Brexit to be ruled out.

4. Conservative MP Dominic Grieve's amendment calls for the government to designate six full days in the Commons for MPs to come up with alternative options to Theresa May's deal. 

5. Labour MP Rachel Reeves' amendment asks the government to delay the date that the UK leaves the EU.

6. Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour MP Jack Dromey's amendment aims to prevent a "no deal" Brexit by supporting the motion that the UK Parliament "rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship".

7. The Brady amendment, proposed by Graham Brady, the chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee. This focuses on the Irish backstop. The Brady amendment recommends replacing the Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements” that would still avoid a hard border. What exactly these “alternative arrangements” remains to be seen.

Is there support?

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that the ERG would not support any amendment, and would either abstain from voting or vote against any proposed changes. Meanwhile, ex-Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and government ministers Stephen Hammond and Rob Buckland, all of whom are former Brexit Remainers, have been working with Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker on an alternative plan for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

We will know more this evening when the House of Commons meets to vote at 7pm.

Below are some possible outcomes from the current situation:

1. MPs approve the amended deal, resulting in the UK leaving the EU with a deal. June 29, the transition period begins, due to end on Dec 31, 2020. During this period the UK/EU trade talks get underway.

2. MPs reject the deal and no compromise is reached, resulting in the UK leaving the EU without a deal. This would result in no transition period and EU laws would immediately stop applying to the UK.

3. MPs vote to extend Article 50 by three months and the EU agrees, resulting in a new deal being agreed by the EU and UK. The UK leaves the EU with this new deal and the transition period and trade talks begin.

4. The UK and EU agree to extend Article 50 by 6 months or more, resulting in either a second referendum or a general election. Negotiations would then begin between a new EU parliament (May 23, 2019, EU elections) and the UK.

The above scenarios may occur, or they may not. The only constant that Brexit has produced since its inception is that of uncertainty. Hopefully, this evenings vote will begin to shed some light. March 29 is not far away.

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