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Bercow asked what House can do about fact PM seems to be ruling out honouring indicative votes before they even take place. Bercow says proceed "with this process... and if there are such votes subsequently... wholehearted participation in them by colleagues is to be recommended"
Quite a telling moment there, especially the hint that the stronger participation, the stronger the case that they should be respected.
Bercow selects amendments D, A and F.
Lidington up to make statement for the government.
He starts by saying the govt does not intend to be "dismissive" of what the House says.
Those amendments in full...
D is the Corbyn amendment. Basically a vague call for indicative votes.
A is the crucial Letwin amendment on indicative votes, in which MPs take control of the parliamentary timetable.
Amendment F is from Margaret Beckett. It is very important. Basically forces the govt to hold a vote on no-deal if we come within a week of falling out the EU without one.
May kind of made a promise to hold this vote anyway during her statement earlier, probably in an attempt to hold it off. But her promises are not worth much.
Lidington repeated that he hopes May's deal will be passed this week. SO deal is back on for a vote this week. For the next two minutes at least.
Clarke intervenes. The govt accepts that it must do what House suggests. The House has said that no-deal must not happen twice. If the govt cannot get a deal, it therefore follows that it must ask for a further extension of Article 50 or revoke.
Lidington warns of dangers to trust in democratic processes etc.
Grieve says he agrees revocation would be dangerous. Fact so many are now up for it suggests "growing level of exasperation". SO the more moderate course is to back PM's deal on the basis it is put to a referendum.
Interesting to note one of the big successes of that petition: By simply calling for revocation, it makes People's Vote seem like a more moderate option.
Which it always was btw. There were always more radical voices in Remain than People's Vote. By failing to grapple with it, the govt encouraged them.
Lidington: After April 12th we can either leave with deal or agree an alternate plan with EU and take part in European elections. Fucking yawning my arse off here. We've been here so many times before.
Lidington reaffirms his previous commitment to holding some kind of indicative vote process "to allow the House to seek some sort of way forward". he says he and PM have acted on that promise.
Fact-check on that: Last week, the prime minister acted as if that promise did not exist. This week she is again conceding that it does.
Lidington asked to come up with a timetable if he's so committed to these indicative votes. He says govt will provide govt time this week, if Letwin amendment does not pass.
So there's the bribe. If Letwin amendment is carried, he admits, the timetable would be up to the House "given the terms in which that amendments has been drafted".
He's asked if they will be free votes on the Tory side. Won't be drawn. Says we don't know enough yet to be clear on the whipping operation.
Fucking state of them.
Clarke: So the idea is that you want to reject the amendment and then make way to do exactly the same thing? Why not just table it for Wednesday and we'd all be in the same place.
Lidington says he'd only know if Wednesday was available if the amendment was defeated. The absurdity.
Streeting: "He can't argue against a perfectly sensible amendment on the basis that the govt is going to propose something similar without saying on what day, for what long, on what condition, on what range of motions."
"If he is saying that parliament shouldn't be in control because the govt ought to be in control then surely it reasonable to actually expect the govt to be in control."
Lidington says it is a matter of constitutional principle. Given the PM spent last week attacking parliament in the name of the people, that is a somewhat difficult argument to make.
Bill Cash gets up to attack. He says govt takes precedence on the basis of standing order 14.
The Letwin amendment puts aside standing order 14.1, which gives the govt precedence over parliamentary business. It is the mechanism it uses to take back control.
Cash's argument is basically that the amendment is unconstitutional. Bercow replies: "The House is the owner of the standing orders. And if a proposition is put to the House for a change in those arrangements, it is perfectly credible."
Letwin intervenes. He says that Lidington's objection is entirely a constitutional one on MPs taking control. None of that would have been a problem if the govt had accepted indicative votes.
In a way, this is exactly the same point as on the revocation petition: By pushing against a reasonable option, it creates the need to force through a more radical one.
Letwin asks: On the Wednesday, if his amendment fails, does the the govt "intend to operate exactly the same principles as in the amendment, or does it have another plan to construct the day?"
Lidington says he "can't give a commitment at that level of detail." But minister might be able to by time of the wind-up speech. SO basically they've three and a half hours to try and come up with something which might buy off potential rebels.
He now moves on to amendment D - the Corbyn one. Basically the same thing as Letwin but without anything meaningful or specific in it.
To be fair to Lidington there's not much to say about it.
He uses the opportunity to say it does not ask for any changes in withdrawal agreement - basically a dig at Corbyn's refusal of an offer from the PM to split that from the future relationship document earlier.
Lidington keeps talking about taking part in the Euro election as if it were just as disastrous as no-deal. Deranged.
I like Lidington, but this is a dispiriting spectacle.
He's done now. Starmer up.
Govt has ignored the House for two years. Now can;t get a House through it. Today, it sort of agrees with an "initiative to break the impasse" but also not.
It is completely unclear, he says, whether the vote on her deal is coming back this week or not. "We've been in that loop since the 10th of December."
PM has also lost control of her party. "Tonight it is likely that the PM and the govt will lose control of parliament and the process, in circumstances where they didn't have to."
Starmer asked interesting question: If the indicative votes found in favour of something that was against Labour policy, would the party be bound by it?
Starmer dodges, says "we're getting ahead of ourselves"> ANd then strikes a sympathetic tone on May;s comments about govt not being held to results - the votes are to test for a majority.
Bill Cash asks some nonsense question on Standing Order 14, which was answered by Bercow. The man really does not understand English.
Clarke presses on that Labour policy point. "Same question we were putting to the govt."
This is dangerous territory for Labour. Clarke asks if Labour will have free votes on indicative votes and will it be bound by result. Starmer: "If this [passes tonight there will be intense debate" on how it works.
But then suddenly becomes quite clear: "If one of the options is no-deal, we'll whip against it."
Starmer lashes out against May speech, saying there's no way out on the basis of a narrative of 'people vs MPs'.
He notes the PM says she didn't intend the comments to have that affect. What's more concerning: "that she made the comments or that she did not appreciate how they would be heard in the environment we're in?"
Starmer relentlessly logical. Says the got seems to agree with what the amendment tonight is trying to achieve.
If it goes through, MPs would decide the time and the options for indicative votes. The govt objection is that it provides too much control for MPs. But the govt's position is that it will provide the time and allow MPs to select the options.
So WTF basically.
Owen Smith says this is doublespeak. Govt accepting Letwin while saying it's not bound by it, "makes us all suspect it is another piece of trickery">
Starmer: "I do think there is a trust issue. The letter to Tusk was an example of that."
This was the letter on a short extension, after May had said a long one was also possible. That's the key point really. There is simply no trust in the PM.
Greening reading from People's Vote hymn sheet: Says public vote is different to the others. The others show a way forward. The public vote option is to validate it.
Intellectually that's obviously right - one is about substance, the other about process. However, it is also part of the People's Vote argument designed to put off any vote on it until they think it'll pass.
Basically, it's kind of a line-to-take, the same way No10 would give lines-to-take to ministers.
Grieve backs up the points though and in a very interesting way. It's important, he says, that MPs can vote for what they see as as preferred outcomes without in any sense forfeiting the right to put the idea to the public.
This is a really strong argument, because it allows People's Vote supporters to back Norway as a Brexit outcome, and also say a confirmatory public vote would be needed on it.
That therefore prevents splits among critics of Brexit in parliament.
Starmer done. Letwin up. He wants to explain what his amendment is and isn't trying to do. "It's not some kind of massive constitutional revolution. The House since its inceptions has owned its standing orders."
"The idea it is an ancient historical principle the govt should own the order paper is slightly ahistorical. It started around 1906 which as far as I'm aware is not part of our ancient constitution."
The way things are organised is decided by a majority of the House of Commons. And they can be changed in the same manner.
Every Friday we have private members bills where the govt gives MPs the chance to put forward a bill. That is not a revolution. And therefore neither is this.
Very strong, calm, reasoned and good humoured from Letwin.
"I find sometimes from the communications - not always utterly polite - that I receive from all quarters on my iPhone that I have from the very beginning to destroy the govt efforts to carry out an orderly Brexit."
He says the real story is "very sad, very ordinary." Goes on: "I started as a entirely loyal member of the Conservative party. I never voted against the whip in my entire parliamentary career - not once."
He thought the PM was unwise to reveal her red lines, but swallowed it and worked to help her get her deal through. He tried to broker compromise - and section 13 of the bill on a meaningful vote is actually a product of that.
He still votes for the prime minister's deal "because I happen to think it is perfectly OK". But face it: There's no majority for it. If you insist on leaving the EU despite that fact there's just two options: No-deal or an alternative to her deal.
It was when he realised the PM might accidentally take us out without a deal, without adequately preparing for it, that he started working on "this modest attempt" at a way forward.
He says compromise is now essential. There is no majority in favour of the "first preferences" of anyone in the House.
This is key: Letwin does not expect this process to throw up a solution on first go. He thinks it is the start of a process of formulating a compromise agreement that might eventually do so.
This is why May's dismissal of indicative votes as things already voted on is directly opposed to his plan. Her approach is to shut down competition. His is to throw open the process to eventually find solutions.
Clarke says that he agrees, and that's why he wants more details on methodology. The single transferable vote is the way to find compromise, given the lack of support for first-preferences.
Letwin says Clarke asking the right question. "We need to think very seriously in the next 24 hours if this amendment does pass" on the shape of the business of the House motion for Wednesday. His view is that on the first round it should just "disclose where votes lie".
Seems to want the options voted on all at once, not in sequence, so there is no gaming. But just a first preference. Then they look at the lie of the land.
"I don't at all discount the possibility that at a later stage - and I'm sure there'll have to be a later stage - that we should resort to some other method to crystallise the majority"
Very interesting. Electoral reform and constitutional nerds: you are going to spaff your pants right through.
Really key. Letwin says govt doesn't know how it would structure these votes. His amendment is open so that there is a lot of room to structure it in best way.
Remember that while this is all going on, the govt is presumably trying to hammer out some idea of its own proposal for indicative votes in time from the wrapping-up.
Pretty obvious though, on past track record, how this will play.
Letwin amendment is for MPs to structure the process, options and time to best allow a solution to be found. Govt approach will be to give enough ground to defeat it, then structure whatever it has to do to kill off whatever isn't May's deal.
Helen Goodman asks an important question: How do they decide what gets onto the ballot paper?
He says they'll choose what are "serious possibilities".
In 2010, he says UK faced a cliff edge on Bank of England discovering our creditors would not finance the UK anymore. It was after the election. And a coalition needed to be formed "pretty quickly".
He was part of the negotiations. He was informed that the cleverest and most experienced people in the civil service had formed teams to work out a coalition agreement in awesome detail and convinced themselves it was impossible.
But they did it, because politicians sat down and worked out "how to accommodate the essential requirements of the other side - this is the process which should have been gone through two years' back."
Ends with this: "I hope and pray the House, if it does vote for this amendment, will not see this as a set of votes in the abstract, but the beginning of a process... to find a consensus."
Very good speech by Letwin indeed.
Right. I'm going to treat myself to the luxurious treats of late-night Commons debate coverage: Greggs and some Juul.
Beckett is up. She had an amendment today, which is very important but hasn't been mentioned enough.
it basically forces the govt to hold a vote in the Commons on leaving the EU with no-deal if it ever comes within seven days of that happening.
She says regardless of whether you want no-deal or not - the UK must not fall into it by accident or inaction. "That would be the very definition of irresponsibility".
Importantly, it would apply even if there is recess. Beckett says she was "very much encouraged" by PM's statement which basically said the same as the amendment. So she was optimistic the PM would just accept it.
Grieve up. He says he'll support the Beckett amendment. No surprises there.
He says that although he is now considered someone trying to obstruct Brexit, but actually he spent a lot of time at the beginning supporting Brexit and trying to make it work.
But when he looked at the deal negotiated, he thought it would "condemn us to a third rate future". Couldn't support it.
Reports are that the Letwin amendment vote is going to tight as fuck btw.
"You cannot have a working democracy where you close down debate. Democracy is all about the permanent shifting of tectonic plates. It goes on every day, all the time. Just because someone is defeated on some matter does not mean they ought to give up."
To argue the referendum result establishes a permanency that cannot be challenged is wrong - but also it has caused the problems we now see, by preventing the "democratic process working".
Grieve is arguing that the House is being prevented from doing its job by the "straightjacket" imposed on debate by this attitude since the referendum. It's a very good argument indeed.
Grieve says he and Letwin disagree on the deal. But they agree on the principle of open debate.
"If we're going to make progress there should be nothing that is forbidden to be discussed."
Rules out idea this is some kind of "constitutional novelty". In fact, it is merely "The House doing its job"... [the govt] has only itself to blame."
Urges May to "participate fully in this process". Yes good luck with that.
Lisa Nandy - Labour MP with Leave constituency who at one point might have potentially gone for May deal - said she's "very dismayed by the govt's position... "I don't think ministers understand how little trust there is left."
"They tell us that the House must make a decision. When we get up and speak with one voice about what we want, they say 'OK we'll go away and think about it', they make some promises. And lo and behold where are those promises when they most count? They're nowhere to be seen."
"What is wrong, honestly, given the mess that has been created in this country, with giving parliament the right to consider the options we want to put forward."
"When you seek to deny us a voice - you're not denying me a voice, who cares whether I have a voice - you're denying the 75,000 people I represent in Wigan a voice."
"We are breaking our democracy. I commend [Letwin]. He is seeking a way to compromise and get past this impasse."
Things not looking great for the Letwin amendment right now. Reports coming out suggesting Remain ministers placated by govt promises - sigh - and not planning to resign to vote for it.
Of course it could simply be that they are confident enough that it'll pass that they don't think there's a need to resign to vote for it/abstain.
Who knows? Not me. I might have another Greggs.
Soubry reminds the Commons of a startlingly obvious democratic fact, which it chooses to ignore every day: "When we had the general election over 30 Conservative MPs lost their seats. The party opposite lost its majority. There is no mandate for hard Brexit."
"It was a real honour and privilege to be here in London and go on that march."
Really powerful speech by Soubry. "I am not interested in my majority. I am not interested in coming back to this place to take the money and sit and enjoy the privileges of being an MP. I will put my country and my constituents first and foremost."
"And I don't care what that costs me. If that means I can't go home of a weekend because of death threats, if that means I have to get a taxi in order to do a 10min walk, if that means I have to be frightened of my well-being & my partner's & my children...
"I feel sorry for them and that can't be right. But this is the biggest decision this country has made since the Second World War. And we come to this place to represent our constituents and do the right thing for our country."
25 minutes of this terrible shitshow to go.
Then votes on the three amendments. Then I'll write something. Then home. Then all this monstrous horribleness again tomorrow.
Thank fuck. It's wrapping up. Jenny Chapman for Labour.
Thank God alive.
"Tonight this House must make an important decision - to take the reins from the hands of the prime minister. I know this isn't an easy decision for many members of this House, particularly those opposite."
"At every turn she has made a crisis of her own making even worse. Enough is enough There is a void where coherent leadership ought to be. So tonight parliament must step into that void to find a consensus."
Chapman's speech is quite good but terribly delivered.
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay up for the government fuck my life.
I wonder if he will bother to vote in the same manner as he is arguing this time.
"The central question before the House this evening is who controls the order paper?"
Barclay now describing how govt is doing the things amendments ask for but will still not back the amendments.
Tries to tackle Letwin argument on comparison with private members bills. Says the difference is between govt choosing the make time and MPs "taking time from the govt".
Letwin says if that is such a problem, accept the amendment and turn it into a govt amendment.
No answer from Barclay. "The govt will make time this week to take it forward, but what it does not address is the constitutional implications...."
Clarke won't let him continue. "As he just indicted the govt has something different in mind, can he give us a little more detail...
"When will this time be? Will members be able to table the motions? And will the govt take any notice of the majorities achieved on any of those motions?"
Barclay answers nothing. Nothing at all. "We will have discussion about how the process should look. The govt has undertaken to have that process." Incredible. Staggering vacuity.
Now turns to Beckett amendment. Says decision on whether to enter recess "is in the control of the House". So he won't set a debate for a week ahead of April 12th, but says "House will certainly have its say".
Becket gets up: "If what I suggest is acceptable, why doesn't he just accept the amendment?"
Barclay: "As I say, e can;t anticipate the business in terms of two weeks time but I think we have given a signal from the dispatch box on behalf of the government about what our position would be."
Simply incredible. The exact same shit all over again.
Slipperiest motherfuckers on the face of the planet.
Things looking up for Letwin amendment as reports come in that the business minister has resigned, just as Barclay wraps up.
Terrible speech from Barclay. Like a rainy February day in human form.
Corbyn doesn't move his amendment. Good. Was meaningless anyway. Letwin moves his. Division.
Bit tense this.
Govt defeated 329 to 302
Wasn't even tight.
Beckett moves her amendment. Division.
Pretty good chance govt about to be handed its arse on this one too.
This is a massive moment. Parliament has now taken control of the Brexit process.
The govt has basically been put in special measures.
Becket amendment defeated 311 314.
Odd. The Beckett amendment was much less radical than the Letwin one.
Quite surprised by that. But anyway, no bother really. It;s not a big deal.
Commons will find a way to vote on no-deal if it;s happening. Would have been better to firm up the manner in which that took place, but it's not a major issue.
The important thing was the Letwin amendment. That is the historic opportunity. And it passed.
MPs will now vote on the motion as amended.
Motion as amended passed by 327 to 300.
That is final confirmation: Letwin has passed. MPs have taken control.
Exact same majority. The votes held rock solid.
David Davies (not that one) says Letwin just "set himself up as a jobbing prime minister" and demands they can hold him to account. Absurd and profoundly dimwitted.
Bercow says it's in order, but suggests not very courteous.
Bercow shoots down Greg Hands: "I don't require any help from the rt hon gentleman. He wouldn't have the foggiest idea where to start. He was once a whip, he wasn't a very good whip...."
Absolute chaos and shouting forever.
Patrick McLoughlin adopts a sombre tone. Says Speaker asked MPs to treat each other with respect. "DO you think your comments reflected that?"
On and on it goes. Terrible scenes. "If I have caused offence I very happily apologise. I have no difficulty apologising to the rt hon gentleman. I didn't think he was a person of tender sensibilities."
Major moment of constitutional change going on here. And this is what they are doing.
Shit you not.
Hugo Swire, with one of the most preposterously pompous interjections on this.
Not a single jot of this is actually about treating people with respect, of course.
Vince Cable is the one who bothers to remind MPs that a "major constitutional innovation" just took place.
Bercow says Letwin will now be taking the lead on how this will all be arranged. See back to tweets earlier in the thread/the dawn of time on what Letwin said about a straight up first preference vote first, with some kind of single transferable arrangement later on
Electoral nerds: Spaff!
Honestly I can think of about six electoral nerds right now who must surely be purring with pleasure at the prospect of what is going to go down this week.
Full report: Parliament finally takes control of Brexit…
Right well this was fun, but I'm going home. Fuck this shit.
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