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Backbench MPs change tack to prevent a no-deal Brexit

2 April 2019

1:18 PM

2 April 2019

1:18 PM

After MPs failed to reach a consensus on the kind of Brexit they wanted for a second time on Monday, the parliamentarians led by Oliver Letwin who are seeking to take control of the Brexit process have changed their strategy.

Instead of having another series of indicative votes on Wednesday as originally planned, the backbenchers will instead support a bill, put forward by Yvette Cooper and a cross-party group of MPs, which will attempt to force Theresa May to ask the EU for another Article 50 extension beyond the 12 April.


The decision is a significant change in tack for the MPs, who seem to have accepted that at present no Brexit option — even a Customs Union, which garnered the most support during the last set of indicative votes — can command a majority in the House of Commons.

Now, their priority will instead be to prevent Theresa May letting Britain leave the EU without a deal. Whether this bill can achieve this though is another matter. If passed, it would be legally binding. But as a piece of primary legislation it will have to get through both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force, which may be difficult in the next ten days before Brexit day. The EU Council made up of the 27 remaining members would also have to, under the terms of Article 50, agree to the extension as well.

It may be that this bill only comes into force before it’s too late to have any effect.


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