MPs could vote on second referendum after the speaker selects amendment
PUBLISHED: 13:33 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 14 March 2019
MPs could vote on an amendment to Theresa May’s motion for an extension to Article 50 which could pave the way for a People’s Vote.
Tabled by the Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston and backed by members of the new grouping, Liberal Democrats and a handful from other parties, the amendment seeks an Article 50 extension to stage a second referendum with Remain and parliament’s preferred Brexit option on the ballot paper.
The People’s Vote campaign said, however, that it did not feel it was time to propose another referendum.
It, however, says it “does not instruct its supporters on how to vote.”
“We recognise there is a range of opinions on when to press the case for the public being given the final say, which means some of these MPs will vote for the Wollaston amendment, some may vote against, and some will abstain.
“But we do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote. Instead, this is the time for parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.
“That is because a People’s Vote is not just another option in this Brexit crisis - it is a solution to this crisis. When the real costs of Brexit are measured up against the broken promises made for it in 2016, we believe parliament will have better opportunities to decide it is only fair and reasonable to give the public a real say on this crucial decision for our country.”
A Best for Britain spokesperson added: “Best for Britain, like a majority of the country, believe that giving the people the final say is the only credible solution to the Brexit mess we’ve been left in after three years of government failure and parliamentary gridlock.
“We believe bringing this issue before parliament today will not truly test the will of the House for a public vote. The debate today must focus on the pressing need for an extension to Article 50 to confirm parliament’s rejection of a no-deal cliff-edge on March 29 and protect the country from a damaging disorderly exit.
“We will continue to build on the strong support throughout the country for parliament to give the people the final say.”
The TIG’s amendment was selected alongside one by Labour’s Hilary Benn to seek to allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process, and an amendment from Labour’s Chris Bryant to stop a third meaningful vote on Theresa May’s deal.
The opposition’s official amendment calls for an unspecified delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.
Brexiteer MPs expressed fury at speaker John Bercow’s decision not to select an amendment which sought to reject a second Brexit referendum.
Deputy chairman of the European Research Group, Mark Francois, said it was signed by “127 members of this house including the entirety of the DUP, 13 members of the Labour Party, and one independent to boot” as well as more than 100 Conservatives.
He said “it therefore had far more signatories than any other amendment on the order paper”, adding that although he “accepts the final decision is yours”, he asked the speaker for guidance as to why it was not chosen - and the rival amendment pursuing a second referendum was chosen.
Bercow hit back, saying that “members do have to take the rough with the smooth”, adding that while it is true the number of signatories is important it is “not the only factor”, and he tries to “always do my best to be fair to the miscellany of different points of view represented in this House”.
But senior backbench Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, raising a point of order, said there might be “some concern” over the selection of amendments around a second Brexit referendum, asking Mr Bercow what were MPs to conclude about “your views on these matters”.
The speaker, in his reply, said MPs were “not to conclude anything” in respect of his views.