Parliament asserts authority over government’s Brexit plans

Parliament just made it harder for Conservatives to achieve a ‘no deal Brexit.’ ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Britain’s parliamentarians today handed Theresa May a second defeat in two days for her government, with an amendment to the Brexit debate timetable that will force government to return with an alternative plan within three days if it loses the vote on the withdrawal agreement next Tuesday.

A five-day debate on the terms of the European Union (EU) withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May was expected to begin today with a Business Motion tabled by government, but the speaker of the house has allowed an amendment to the government’s motion tabled by Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general and Tory MP, that will force May to produce another plan within three days should the government’s Brexit plan be rejected by MPs.

Today’s vote is widely seen as parliament making it difficult for government to arrive, by accident or design, at a no deal Brexit, which was a particular concern for the freight industry.

May’s motion would have allowed her 21 days for further debate and another seven days for another vote. Opposition Labour MPs and others opposed to May’s Brexit plan believe the government are trying to run down the clock in order to force her own party to support her deal or face a no deal Brexit.

However, parliamentary observers still expect the government’s withdrawal deal to be voted down.

Today’s vote came on the back of a defeat for the government yesterday which saw an amendment to the government’s finance bill which would curb tax administration powers in the event of a no deal. A number of Conservative MPs, some of them very senior, voted against government yesterday which saw the government defeated by seven votes. Today’s vote handed May a greater setback with a defeat by a margin 11 votes, 308 to 297.

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Nick Savvides, Staff Writer

Nick came to FreightWaves in December 2018 from Fairplay, a shipping market publication. He covers the shipping, freight and logistics industry in Europe. Since starting his career as a journalist in 1990, Nick has worked for a number of significant freight publications abroad, including International Freighting Weekly, the online news service for Containerisation International, ICIS, the chemical industry reporting service, as well as Seatrade in Greece. Nick also worked as a freelance journalist writing for Lloyd’s List, The Observer, The Express and The European newspapers among others before joining Seatrade Newsweek in Athens.