The British parliament will hold a debate on Brexit on Feb. 14. This is not a re-run of a vote last month on whether to approve the exit deal Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated with the European Union.
May is seeking changes to her deal with Brussels after it was rejected by a record majority in parliament on Jan. 15. She has said she wants to bring a revised deal back to parliament for a vote soon, but has not yet set a date.
On Tuesday, May asked lawmakers to hold their nerve and give her more time to negotiate a deal acceptable to both the European Union and the British parliament.
Below is what will happen on Thursday:
WHAT WILL THEY DEBATE?
The debate will be on a motion which states that parliament welcomes May’s Feb. 12 update on her progress in seeking changes to the agreement, and reaffirms its support for a vote on Jan. 29 that she should seek to renegotiate the part of the deal relating to the future of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.
CAN LAWMAKERS PROPOSE CHANGES?
Yes. They are known as amendments.
However this is not expected to be a crunch point in which lawmakers attempt to wrest control of the process away from the government as May has promised that parliament will have another chance to express its opinion on Feb. 27, if it has not approved a revised deal by then.
Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper has said she will wait until that date to seek lawmakers’ support for legislation that would force the government to make a decision between leaving without a deal or extending the Article 50 negotiation period if it has not had a deal approved by March 13.
Below are the amendments put forward so far:
Put forward by the Labour Party. It calls on the government to either give parliament a vote on a revised deal or a chance to express its opinion on what happens next by Feb. 27.
Proposed by Labour lawmaker Roger Godsiff, this calls for the government to request an extension to Article 50 and call a referendum which gives Britons the choice between accepting May’s agreement, leaving without a deal or staying in the EU.
Put forward by Conservative Party lawmaker Ken Clarke, this calls for parliament to vote on a range of Brexit options to determine what could win the support of a majority of lawmakers.
Proposed by Scottish National Party lawmakers, it calls on the government to reverse the decision to leave the EU by revoking Article 50
Put forward by lawmakers from both May’s Conservative Party and the Labour Party, it calls on the government to publish, within seven days, its latest analysis of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on business and trade.
WILL THERE BE VOTES?
Speaker John Bercow will decide whether to select any of the amendments for a vote. Lawmakers will vote on each of the selected amendments one by one, before voting to give final approval to the wording of the motion itself. Voting is due to begin at 1700 GMT. Each vote takes around 15 minutes and the result is read out in parliament.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THAT?
If lawmakers support the motion and give May more time to negotiate, nothing will immediately change after Thursday’s vote. The government will keep pursuing its plan to change the exit agreement and put a deal to parliament as soon as possible.
If any amendments are passed, they are not binding on the government but could put pressure on it to change course.
Members of the pro-Brexit ERG group of Conservative lawmakers are threatening to oppose the motion because it acknowledges that parliament voted on Jan. 29 to approve a symbolic proposal calling on the government to stop a disorderly no-deal exit.
If the motion is rejected, it would undermine May’s efforts to show Brussels that if they do agree to renegotiate the Irish backstop, she has a stable majority in parliament who would approve the deal and other necessary legislation.
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