Britain’s Parliament votes on Wednesday on whether to leave the European Union without a deal. Here’s a guide to what the House of Commons is voting on, and how different politicians are trying to re-write the government motion.
The government motion is very specific. It says the UK shouldn’t leave the EU without a deal “on March 29, 2019,” and goes on to note that no-deal remains the default outcome unless an agreement is struck and ratified in Parliament. Some members of Parliament suspect that it’s written in order to keep May’s deal in play after the Commons overwhelmingly rejected it for a second time on Tuesday.
A series of proposals have been made to rewrite May’s motion, known as “amendments.” It’s up to Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow which ones get voted on, and it’s possible that -- as on Tuesday -- he won’t select any of them. He’ll announce his choice at the start of the debate on Wednesday.
The Spelman Amendment
Some of those suspicious MPs, led by the Conservative Caroline Spelman, have put down an amendment deleting all of May’s text and replacing it with a much plainer rejection of leaving without a deal. This has a good chance of passing. It will be referred to as “Amendment A.”
The ‘Malthouse B’ Amendment
This amendment is designed to endorse a so-called “managed no-deal” Brexit. It’s named after Housing Minister Kit Malthouse, even though his name doesn’t appear on it. The idea is supposed to unite different wings of the Conservative Party behind a plan of delaying Brexit until May 22 and using that time to negotiate a two-year standstill period, for which the U.K. would pay. This is an idea that the EU has already ruled out as unworkable, but that won’t stop plenty of Conservatives from voting for it. It will be referred to as “Amendment F.”
The Cancel Brexit Amendments
Amendments B and D suggest withdrawing the U.K.’s official Article 50 letter, which notified the EU two years ago of the country’s intention to leave the bloc. Neither of these amendments is likely to be selected for a vote. The Scottish National Party has also laid an amendment floating this possibility.
The Second Referendum Amendments
Amendments C and D (again) suggest a second referendum. Neither had the kind of support on Wednesday morning that makes it likely they’d get selected.
The Keep No-Deal Alive Amendment
Conservative Edward Leigh’s amendment, submitted Wednesday morning, calls for no-deal to be kept as an option. It’s unlikely to be selected.