WATCH: 'A blank sheet of paper' - SNP MP mocks government handling of business
PUBLISHED: 15:11 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:32 28 March 2019
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MPs will be given the chance to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal, but it will not amount to the much-touted third meaningful vote on her withdrawal plan.
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said MPs would sit for an unscheduled debate on Brexit on Friday, March 29, but rebuffed questions about what sort of vote would follow.
Leadsom appeared to indicate that MPs could be asked to approve the Withdrawal Agreement reached last November, but not the political declaration setting out plans for a future trade and security relationship with the EU.
So far no information has been made available on the wording of the motion to be tabled later on Thursday.
The lack of clarity sparked frustration among some MPs, with SNP commons leader Pete Wishart comparing the government’s Brexit strategy to a blank sheet of paper.
Gesturing to a sheet of A4, Wishart jibed that he had “the real business for next week - a blank sheet of paper” and added that ministers did not have a clue about what was going on.
He threw further shade at Leadsom’s leadership hopes, adding: “Maybe if she promises to resign immediately after she gets elected, her chances will be boosted significantly.”
In response, the leader of the House offered Mr Wishart “a slice of Colin the Caterpillar” cake in her office to mark his recent birthday and reaffirmed her support for the prime ministers “determination at all times to put her country first”.
Friday’s debate is dependent on a business motion being moved and passed by the House later on Thursday, and on speaker John Bercow deeming that the government’s proposal is in line with parliamentary rules which ban the same motion being repeatedly tabled.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said that “no-one will be fooled by the latest antics from a government that will try every trick in the book to force its broken Brexit deal through.”
“If it is really seeking to separate the Withdrawal Agreement from the Political Declaration, this would mean asking MPs to approve the terms of departure from the European Union without even the faintest clue about our eventual destination.
“Any MP who cares about responsible government and the national interest or the future of jobs and public services in their constituencies will judge this proposal utterly intolerable.”