Countdown to Brexit: 13 days – the search for a Brexit solution continues – with e-petitions and wider options up for debate next week.

In parallel with the Commons continuing their discussions on Monday into finding a way forward with Brexit that a majority of MPs can support - a debate will be held at 4:30pm in Westminster Hall Monday on three e-petitions relating to leaving the European Union.

The MP selected to ‘lead’ the debate is Catherine McKinnell, MP.

The ‘deal’ that Theresa May had negotiated and agreed with the European Union has now been rejected by Parliament on three occasions: the combination of ‘UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement’ and the accompanying ‘Political Declaration on the framework for the future UK-EU relationship’ on 15 January by 230 votes; 12 March by 149 votes; and on 29 March by 58 votes – when Prime Minister ‘split’ the deal and MPs voted on the Withdrawal Agreement alone.

On 27 March Parliament – rather than the Government of the day - ‘took control’ of proceedings dictating what gets discussed – and worked through 8 proposals put forward by groups of MPs to see if a Brexit that could ‘command a majority in the House’ emerged.  It did not – but there were some - from a menu of eight - that were defeated by less than the subsequent vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.  MPs will refine and possible create composites so there are fewer choices and continue discussions on Monday.

Meanwhile citizens across the nation have been making their voices heard on what they would like to see happen.  A million marchers in London for a second referendum; a march for leave with no-deal from Sunderland; and more voters signing online ‘e-petitions’ than for ever before.  

Once an e-Petition reaches 100,000 signatures, Parliament is duty bound to debate it – and it seems timely to schedule the Brexit focused petitions for Monday.

The Government has declared that neither proceedings in the House of Commons, not results of the e-Petition debate are binding upon it – and it will have the final say in whether the UK leaves with a deal, leaves with no-deal; applies for a ‘long’ extension to re-negotiate a ‘deal’; or revokes Article 50 before 12 April.

We note that:

  • there is a high level of correlation between some of the options to be debated by Parliament and the e-Petitions;

  • those that sign e-Petitions do not do so from the anonymity of the ballot box - putting a cross in secret for an option – but have to openly declare their position and confirm personal details.  This is a far greater commitment than voting in the traditional method.

In Westminster, the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Ledsom MP, dismissed the e-Petition out of hand.

Speaking in the European Parliament In Brussels, European Commission President, Donald Tusk said: “Let me be clear...you cannot betray the 6 million people who signed the petition to revoke article 50; the 1 million people who marched for a people’s vote; or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the European Union.”

Although he was heckled by Ukip MEPs, Tusk continued: “They may feel that they are not sufficiently represented by the UK parliament - but they must feel that they are represented by you in this chamber.  Because they are Europeans.”

E-petitions

E-petition 241584: Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU.

Signatures at midday Saturday 30 March: 5,990,380

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

“The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is 'the will of the people'.  We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU.  A People's Vote may not happen - so vote now.”

Government Response – issued by Department for Exiting the European Union: “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.

It remains the Government’s firm policy not to revoke Article 50. We will honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.

Revoking Article 50, and thereby remaining in the European Union, would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in Government.

The Government acknowledges the considerable number of people who have signed this petition.  However, close to three quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected.  This Government wrote to every household prior to the referendum, promising that the outcome of the referendum would be implemented. 17.4 million people then voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at UK Government.

British people cast their votes once again in the 2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum.

This Government stands by this commitment.  Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by Government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy. As the Prime Minister has said, failing to deliver Brexit would cause “potentially irreparable damage to public trust”, and it is imperative that people can trust their Government to respect their votes and deliver the best outcome for them.”

E-petition 243319: Parliament must honour the Referendum result.  Leave deal or no-deal 29/03/19.

Signatures at midday Saturday 30 March: 172,543

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/243319

The UK voted in a referendum in 2016 to Leave the EU....this wasn't dependent on a " deal" ....but rather just "Leave" we are now demanding that all mp's honour this result .conservative and labour mp's also agreed to leave on 29/03/19...... deal or no deal as part of their gen election campaign.

Government Response: Awaiting response

E-petition 235138: Hold a second referendum on EU membership.

Signatures at midday Saturday 30 March: 178,302

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235138

“The Brexit process has been a failure.  At the end of two years, our ruling party is bitterly divided, the main opposition not a viable replacement for it, and the deal we have negotiated is almost universally opposed.

No one voted for this to happen.

Whether you voted leave or remain, you didn't vote for us to leave the EU in disarray, with no deal, putting many peoples livelihoods and living situations at risk.

We must hold a second referendum, now we can all see what 'Leave' really means for this country and Europe.  We must hold a vote between the following two options:

- Take the Deal negotiated by Theresa May

- Cancel Brexit and remain in the EU

No-deal is not an option.”

Government Response – issued by Department for Exiting the European Union: “The Government remains clear that we will respect the result of the 2016 referendum, and we therefore will not hold a second referendum.

The Government is clear that we will not have a second referendum; it’s mandate is to implement the result of the previous referendum.

The 2016 referendum delivered a very clear instruction to Government - to withdraw from the European Union.  Since then, this Government has remained committed to honouring that instruction, given to us through 17.4 million votes to leave the European Union - the highest number of votes cast for anything in UK electoral history.

That result was reinforced not only by Parliament’s passing of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill with clear and convincing majorities; but also in the 2017 General Election, where over 80% of people also voted for parties committed to respecting the result of the referendum.  In fact, both major parties stood for election on a stated policy to respect the decision of the people. The Government is clear that it is now its duty to implement the will expressed by voters in the referendum - respecting both the will of the British people, and the democratic process which delivered the referendum result.

The British people must be able to trust in its Government both to effect their will, and to deliver the best outcome for them.  As the Prime Minister has said: “This is about more than the decision to leave the EU; it is about whether the public can trust their politicians to put in place the decision they took.”

The Government therefore remains committed to delivering on the instruction and the mandate given to us by the British people – to withdraw from the European Union.  We continue to work to reach consensus on the deal we have negotiated, to enable a smooth and orderly exit, and deliver an outcome which betters the lives of British people - whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.”

Parliament debated and voted on eight different motions proposing alternative approaches to Brexit and the future relationship with the EU on 27 March.

None of the motions was approved by a majority of MPs.  The votes were as follows:

  • For a permanent and comprehensive UK-EU customs unions union.  Defeated by 272 votes to 264 [8 majority].

  • Labour party’s plan for a permanent customs union, close alignment with the EU Single Market and dynamic alignment with the EU on rights and protections.  Defeated by 307 votes to 237 [70 majority].

  • For the Common Market 2.0 proposal, involving the UK negotiating membership of the European Economic Area through the European Free Trade Association (enabling continued EU Single Market membership) and entering a customs union with the EU (until alternative arrangements to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland can be agreed).  Defeated by 283 votes to 188 [95 majority].

  • Applying to join EFTA and seeking to remain in the EEA, while declining to enter into a customs union with the EU.  Defeated by 377 votes to 65 [312 majority]

  • Revocation of Article 50 in order to avoid no-deal if no Withdrawal Agreement has been approved two days before exit day.  Defeated by 293 votes to 184 [109 majority].

  • A referendum to be held on any Withdrawal Agreement/future relations framework approved by Parliament.  Defeated by 295 votes to 268 [27 majority].

  • To immediately seek to agree a trade agreement and other preferential agreements with the EU if the Withdrawal Agreement is not implemented.  Defeated by 422 votes to 139 [283 majority].

  • Leaving the EU without a deal on 12 April.  Defeated by 400 votes to 160 [240 majority].