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As it happenedended1553643991

Brexit news: MPs submit indicative vote plans as government rejects 'Revoke Article 50' petition

Follow The Independent's coverage of how the day unfolded

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
,Lizzy Buchan,Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 27 March 2019 00:45 GMT
Countdown to Brexit: How many days left until Britain leaves the EU?

MPs are gearing up for a series of votes on different Brexit scenarios after dramatically wresting control of the EU exit process from the government.

Different Brexit factions must put forward their preferred options by the end of the day for “indicative votes” on Wednesday, including bids for a Norway-style deal and a second referendum.

The move could pave the way for a softer Brexit, prompting infighting among Eurosceptic hardliners over whether to back Theresa May‘s deal instead.

On Tuesday, the prime minister’s Brexit strategy was left in disarray and her leadership under threat after three of her ministers resigned and MPs dramatically voted to take control of the process.

Her authority was left in tatters after 30 members of her party defied her instructions and voted for the move. Three government resigned in order to vote against the prime minister.

It comes as the government rejected a petition with more than 5.78 million signatures calling for Brexit to be halted by revoking article 50.

In an official response posted on the parliamentary petitions website, the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) said: “This government will not revoke Article 50.

“We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union.”

The petition will still be debated by MPs in the Commons’s secondary chamber Westminster Hall on 1 April.

A government minister will be required to respond to the petition, but there will be no vote on the action it demands.

Follow our coverage of how the day unfolded


Welcome to The Independent's coverage of the day's political events. 

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 07:50

In case you missed yesterday night's action, MPs voted by 329 votes to 302 – to take control of parliamentary process away from the prime minister so that they can set out how they think Britain should escape its political crisis.

Read The Independent's Political Editor's report:

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:07

MPs have to take responsibility for the Brexit process because the government is not doing its job, Hilary Benn has said.

Mr Benn, who is chairman of the Commons Exiting the European Union Committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

If the Government isn't going to do its job then Parliament is going to have to take responsibility, and that is what we are doing on Wednesday."

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:10

Referring to the process for the indicative Commons votes planned for Wednesday, Mr Benn said: "The first time round it will just be 'here are the propositions' and you vote for as many as you would like."

Mr Benn added:

And then we will see the results from Wednesday night. The motion that we will move tomorrow suggests that we go through a similar process next Monday.

There will obviously be discussions between MPs looking at the results of what has happened on Wednesday night. Which are the most popular options? We may then change the system for next week as we are trying to narrow it down."

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:11

If you're wondering how your MP voted in yesterday's crunch vote - have a read of The Independent's full list: 

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:26

Steve Brine, who quit as a health minister to back the proposal for indicative votes, told the BBC: 

I will still, as I said in my letter to the Prime Minister... I will still support her deal.

I still think it is the best of the options. Maybe what last night will do is focus some minds... those on my side who don't like the deal, maybe they will realise that the House of Commons is prepared to act.

And, anything from here, as far as they are concerned, gets softer in terms of Brexit. If the House of Commons just simply cannot come up with anything to move us out of this then everything is on the table.

You have to accept that a second referendum or revoking Article 50 are on the table because they will probably be some options."

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:27

Richard Harrington, who resigned as business minister to oppose the Government on the issue of indicative votes, told the Today programme:

It's absurd that now we are in a position of political impasse and... Parliament hasn't actually talked about it on the floor of the House of Commons.

That's what I call a democratic deficit. And Parliament has got to talk about it."

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:36

Mr Harrington said it would be legitimate to have another referendum if MPs backed revoking Article 50.

He said: "I don't think that's likely. If that were the case then I think it would be very plausible for the Prime Minister then to say I don't want this because this is totally different from the last time the public were consulted in the first referendum.

"Therefore, I feel it would be very legitimate before taking such a dramatic move as revoking Article 50 to have another referendum, to see where the public are at."

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:48

Here is the letter Mr Harrington sent the prime minister: 

Shehab.Khan26 March 2019 08:50

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said the government will not be able to implement whatever Brexit outcome the Commons decides it wants when indicative votes on the matter are held later this week.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"Clearly, it's incumbent on the government to listen to what the Commons says.

"But we can't pre-commit to following whatever they vote for, because they might vote for something that is completely impractical, they might vote for two things that are incompatible, or vote for nothing at all. We cannot say – absolutely, whatever they pass.

He added:

"If the Commons voted for the sun to rise in the west, the government would not be able to implement that. This whole debate has been characterised by people coming in with ideas which we now call unicorns in the political debate."

Benjamin Kentish26 March 2019 09:10

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