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OK, debate begins on May's third-meaningful-vote-it's-not-a-meaningful-vote-but-actually-it-is-she's-a-desperate-liar.
Rattling boombox Geoffrey Cox is up for the government. "This should've been the day we left the European Union," he says.
"I do not intend to review how and why we have arrived at this point." Bet you don't mate.
He lays out the threat. If MPs approve this agreement, they extend to mid-May. If not it;s just April, and a further extension will probably be required involving the European elections.
"This motion sets out clearly that it is not a meaningful vote."
Abject fucking hypocrisy.
Plan is to get around the Speaker's ruling, try to limit loss of authority to May from another defeat, and pretend to MPs that they can vote for it without really signing up to the deal.
It also allows the govt to force us into a position where we miss the April 12th deadline and can no longer secure any further extensions to Article 50. It's a trap, @jonlis1 has noted, to force a choice between May's deal and no-deal in late April.
@jonlis1 Hilary Benn spots exactly the issue. "I want to ask him about the consequences for any further extension."
If we get to 22nd May but can't agree on future relationship document, then no more extensions would be possible.
Cox: "We have the opportunity here to embrace certainty." Yes, the certainty of no-deal vs May's-deal.
"They do not object to a clause or article of the withdrawal agreement," Cox continues. "They have not emitted a peep of disagreement with a single clause or article of that agreement. And their position today is they intend to vote it down. What kind of cynicism is that?"
Grieve: The May extension is technical, on the basis of a agreement made "full and completely" in the Commons. SO if they extend to May without that complete agreement they are risking no-deal.
But if they ask for the longer extension now, it will be given to us.
This is imply true, btw. The EU have been extremely obvious about it. Cox disingenuously replies: "I know my rt hon friend is a very distinguished and able lawyer but I never knew he had a crystal ball."
OK this is all getting quite legally wrangled, so let me quickly explain the shit they're pulling here.
The block on further Article 50 extensions is the European elections in late May. The UK needs to decide by mid-April whether to take part.
If we don't take part, we can't extend Article 50 further as we'd be a member state with no MEPs. So the EU set two deadlines: One technical extension, if May passed her deal, until late May. And one until mid April if there was no deal.
The understanding was that if no deal was passed by next week, Britain would ask to extend again, probably until the end of the year, and take part in the elections.
So here's where the govt's trick comes in. It knows it can't pass the deal. So now it has split it in two and tried to pass just the withdrawal agreement part.
That's what MPs are voting on today. If they pass it, the govt will say that the relevant part of the deal is passed, the new extension is therefore until late-May. It'll then refuse to take part in the European elections.
Then they'll wait until mid-April has passed, so it'll be too late for the UK to take part in the elections. And then they will have a guarantee that article 50 cannot be extended any further.
This puts May exactly where she wanted to be: Forcing MPs to choose between her deal and no-deal.
It is unbelievably misleading, cynical, desperate and pathetic.
Cox lays it on thick. "We are at an important cross-roads for the purposes of this nation's future. I urge all members of this House to embrace this opportunity now."
That was a deeply shameful contribution from the attorney general. Dressing up a cynical attempt to bring the country to the brink for self-interested political reasons as an act of national responsibility.
Just zoom out for a second. Back to the days when you thought the country was run by rational actors who wanted the best for their nation rather than their party.
What a fucking state you have to be in for ministers to actively try to put the country into a position where it is about to fall off a cliff edge, just so MPs have to back their shabby little deal.
And of course, in a way that Orwell would have found completely unremarkable, this is all dressed up as an act of patriotism.
And of course, that is why so many ERG types are folding. They are prepared to sign up a deal that, according to them, turns us into a "slave state", because they think they have lost control of the Brexit process.
If you could convert the hypocrisy into a food source, you'd have solved world hunger.
This is all very dangerous. ERG folding. Brexiter Labour MPs quivering. Only DUP holding firm really.
However, and this really was crucial, Speaker did not select any amendments. One of them by Labour MPs from Brexit seats created a process which might have given MPs a say over the future relationship. If govt had backed it, it might have stood a chance of getting over the line.
The idea that something so plainly desperate and disgraceful could make anyone shift is beyond me, but still.
Anyway, they still do not have the numbers. Hard rump of ERG standing firm, alongside moderate Tories and DUP.
But what's happening here is their desperate last-gasp attempt to try to force us into a no-deal punishment choice, rather than let MPs try to find a compromise Monday.
It's nerve-wracking. Things could still swing their way, with things as volatile as they are right now.
Bill Cash on the deal (I'm calling it a deal, not an agreement - fuck em). "Under Article 4 of this agreement we will for a significant period of time lose control over the law making that is conferred upon this House by our election as members of parliament.
"It is unconscionable that this House should be politically castrated." Gonna go out on a limb here and say that Cash is not about to back the deal.
Ian Paisley: "This withdrawal agreement places irreversible damage forever and will be lasting on Northern Ireland on our precious union."
No trace of movement from the DUP there.
Extraordinary intervention from Brexiter Bernard Jenkins. "I interpreted [Cox's] remarks to be a suggestion that we should approve this today in order to satisfy the technical terms of extension agreed by the EU 27 on the basis of some kind of ruse...
... to get an extension even thought we haven't approved the [deal] on the terms we said we would. Is that an act of good faith with our European partners?"
Um. I agree with Bernard Jenkins.
Every time the attorney general stops talking he looks like his spirit is leaving his body.
That guy looks like he would rather be anywhere but here, doing anything but this.
And in that much, at least, I am 100% with him.
Nigel Dodds: "Every single Unionist party agree with the position that this is a problem for the Union. Let not people pretend that it is otherwise."
More evidence DUP definitely standing firm.
Btw, I think the DUP are right on point of fact.
The backstop is UK-wide, but it has different requirements for NI and the rest of the UK. At the start, that would just mean an expansion of agricultural checks at the Port of Larne, between Britain and NI.
But if the UK then does go for hard Brexit, it'll do deals with states like the US, with lower food regulations. And those checks between Britain and NI will grow. The backstop will be the thin end of the wedge.
Neil Gray, SNP: "There's no doubt there's gameplaying going on with the motion today. But it appears some Labour MPs may be getting bought with that game playing."
Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader: "We are at a very dangerous juncture. I appeal to members on the Labour benches to think very, very carefully as to where we are today."
"If govt somehow manages to get this through on the back of Labour MPs voting for this govt - we know the PM is going to depart & we'll be left in the hands of Tory MPs who are going to appoint a new PM - I appeal to Labour members, don't give that authority to the Tory party."
"I do appeal. If you go through the lobbies tonight with the Conservatives you are delivering a hard Tory Brexit."
Angry response from Ian Murray, Scottish Labour Mp, saying Blackford is attacking Labour. He isn't really. He's urging Labour MPs not to support the government.
But Blackford himself then descends into party-political point scoring and how Labour worked with Tories in Scottish independence referendum. Tiresome dreadfulness.
Anna Soubry: "It's really important that all of us who see this motion for what it is, stick together, and don't turn against each other."
"Has he had the opportunity to speak to the attorney general about... I'm sure he's going to come off his phone in a minute, if someone could give him a prod." Cox looks up. Soubry: "Hello."
Soubry doing good work in there. Blackford: "We have all sort to work together to bring unity to the opposition." Tempers in a better place than they were a moment ago.
"I say to all colleagues in this House, I plead with you - under no circumstances, vote with the govt today." Much better tone from Blackford.
Brilliant from Barry Sheerman, urging Blackford to be a little milder on Labour MPs. "This isn't an honest debate today, this is a confidence trick to trick us into misleading our constituents. We are nearly there. We can defeat this. Let's stay together."
IDS is up god save our souls.
"I am going to support the govt in this."
He is pretty honest. Says the deal has not changed, but the "balance of risks" has. In other words, the project is slipping away from them.
Kevin Brennan, Lab: "On March 3rd on his website the rt hon member said: 'British govts have lied about the EU for decades. This is the final deceit'. And he's going to vote for it."
IDS desperately tries to scramble away from his own words. "I want my govt not to be deceitful." Basically lays it all on the bill.
So IDS line is that they can do this, eradicate any chance at further extension, and then attack the bill implementing the deal.
That is shocking. I pray Labour MPs realise what it is he is proposing.
He is trying to create a situation where Article 50 cannot be extended further. The cliff edge will be locked in. Then hard Brexiters attack the legislation implementing May's deal.
That is a guerrilla strategy for securing no-deal. Dressed up in bullshit, but that is what it is.
Caroline Flint stands up to say she "doesn't want us to crash out on a no-deal either". Good to hear. If so, she must vote against what is happening today.
John Redwood is up. All these hardline Brexiters are crucial today.
Which kinda tells you how fucked we are.
He says there is a very big majority in his constituency against this agreement. "The national polling reflects this as well. This agreement has somewhere between 15% and 25% support on a very good day."
"I would urge all to consider it and bear that in mind when they cast their vote this afternoon."
"The withdrawal agreement is not leaving the European Union."
If there's a twist at the end of this to say he's backing the deal, it'll be a pretty fucking big one.
"For me it turns out to be an easy decision. I'm sorry that for many of my rt hon friends it is not so easy. I have voted against the govt before and I will vote against it again this afternoon."
So Redwood firm.
Benn is up. "This motion is a transparent attempt by the govt to avid another meaningful vote" in the terms of the withdrawal act.
Cox suggests - quite extraordinary really - that this was the only way to get around the Speaker's ruling.
Benn: Just change the future relationship document. Quite right. It isn't complicated. The straightjacket is a self-imposed one based on the govt's red lines.
Benn argues that the Article 50 text itself wraps the withdrawal and future relationship together. This is questionable btw. It does refer to both things, but future bit is looser, not legally clear that it is a requirement.
However, as Benn rightly says, the PM herself then doubled down on this. On the 14th Jan, she said "One cannot be banked without the commitments of the other".
Benn: "And yet what this motion seeks to do is explicitly to try to bank the commitments of one without the commitments of the other. And I do not see how that can be consistent in any way with what the PM told the House."
Ben cutting up and taking the govt position apart like a surgeon.
"In effect this is a no-deal motion and for that reason alone it deserves to be defeated."
Robin Walker tries to mock him for the statement, saying it is an agreement, so it can't be a no-deal proposition.
It sounds intuitively correct, but precisely for the reasons earlier in this thread, it is a lie: the purpose of the motion is to eradicate the possibility of further extensions.
Dominic Grieve is up. Says no-deal is the danger hanging over everything. The question is whether this motion resolves the problem. "In my view it cannot and does not."
The Tory manifesto said it was necessary to agree the terms of future partnership alongside withdrawal. He's often told he has to follow that manifesto. So what happened to the govt?
Grieve says he committed that if a deal was reached, he would not try to use the passage of the legislation enacting it in order to wreck it.
"It's perfectly obvious that some of my hon friends have the intention to use the withdrawal agreement Act to wreck the passage of any agreement."
"We have to be honest in our purposes. I do not intend to sell my constituents short, however tempting for might be in party political advantage. If ultimately we fail the country, then we as a party are not worth existing."
Sammy Wilson, DUP: "We are breaking the legislation and ignoring the legislation that this House past in order to comply with a deadline which has been imposed on us by the EU. There's a certain irony in that."
"Our position has not changed."
Kate Hoey, Lab Brexiter. "Having nothing changed about the backstop since it was introduced, the people of NI will see anyone who voted for this agreement today... as not supporting the people of NI to be part of the UK."
Sounds like Hoey not voting for the motion.
John Baron, Con Brexiter: "If we vote for this deal this afternoon we will be drawing a line between NI and the rest of the UK. It may only be a trade barrier, but that;s how these things start." Sounds like he's standing firm.
Priti Patel, Con Brexiter: "This motion today is yet another disappointment to everyone who voted to leave the EU."
"It is clear it binds the UK into following the withdrawal agreement."
"Once this withdrawal agreement is agreed there is no turning back." Sounds like she's standing firm.
"Agreeing the motion would mean we face a Brexit deal which is dreamed up, drafted and decided by the EU. Once the motion is passed we'll be forced to comply with the EU demand."
Guess it's a no from Patel then.
She then refers to how not voting for it helps those trying to stop Brexit. Erm... so what is she saying exactly?
"I do not take the decision I am going to take today at all lightly."
OK so I now have no ideas how she's going to vote. Not sure she does either.
Raab is up. Expected to now back the deal.
"I still believe it to be a bad deal." But because the govt has threatened to take no-deal off the table and shown "acquiescence" in extending Article 50.
The use of this type of language for such transparently self-interested political manoeuvres is so shameful really. i think I just threw up a bit in my mouth.
"I believe we need to proceed with some realism." Amazing.
He faced "unsavoury alternatives" of being trapped in backstop and no-Brexit.
He says the motion isn't a third meaningful vote in law or practice, but it has legal effect - it prevents the govt seeking a further election and stops European elections in May.
Baron gets up, urges him to hold firm.
"We know this is a bad deal. which could lock the UK indefinitely in a backstop. When deciding to vote against Iraq, we could only judge it on the facts at the time, not about threats of WMD. Please consider that before he finally makes his mind up."
Makes no difference. Raab confirms he'll vote for the motion.
Christopher Chope, Con Brexiter, says he will vote against motion. "Despite the best interests of so many of my colleagues, I fear they are falling for the siren song of the govt." Standing firm.
Soubry: "It;s a pleasure follow the hon member. I don;t agree with much of what he says but I will say this: At least he is consistent with the arguments he had made."
Patel nodding as Soubry as suggests she will vote against the motion. So seems like she's standing firm maybe.
Owen Paterson reeling off the defects in the May deal. Sounding like he miiiiiight resist the motion.
"This is about trust and democracy. What we're seeing today does not deliver. it does not deliver on the referendum, it does not deliver on the manifesto."
"Why on earth would I change my mind today? I will maintain my integrity and reputation."
Notwithstanding how much of those things he has to lose, it sounds like Paterson is holding firm.
Rebecca Pow, Tory MP, has a unicorn pinned on her jacket.
She's not wearing her politics on her sleeve exactly, but it is on her general clothing.
Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid: "This is nothing more than deceit, duplicity and deception from a govt in desperation. And then the PM has the audacity to go on national television and blame us for her failure as head of state to govern."
Another Brexiter Tory confirms they'll vote against the motion.
John Baron confirms it. "I voted against meaningful vote one and two and I will be voting against meaningful vote three this afternoon."
Things not looking quite as tight as they were earlier. Labour vote mostly feels to be holding steady. DUP firm. Baseline of ERG still opposing.
Things could change. Labour result could be worse than expected. But atm things seem on track for a reduced, but still significant govt margin of defeat.
Mark Hendrick, Lab, gets it right: "I will be voting against this deal tonight because I believe it is a trap, a final attempt by the PM to leave us in a situation where it will be her deal or no deal."
Lisa Nandy here suggesting she and other Labour MPs were inching towards backing the deal, but May saying she'd quit has actually pushed them away
David Jones, Tory Brexiter, doesn't sound like he's buckling. "The motion before us does not fulfil the statutory requirements of the Act. We are being asked to approve it for one reason only, and that is to keep the clock ticking."
"If anything had changed I would have been inclined possibly to consider supporting the motion today. But nothing has changed and therefore I won't."
Steve Brine, who quit as minister earlier this week for indicative votes. He'll back the motion, I presume.
(He always said he backed May's deal, even if he wanted indicative votes as a Plan B)
"From the speeches I've heard inhere today I think it's unlikely it'll get over the line today."
He confirms he'll vote for the deal today.
PM back in the Chamber. She'll do the wrap-up for the govt. About half an hour away from the vote.
Corbyn up.
Govt has run down the clock to blackmail MPs. I mean, sure. But do you have mix every single metaphor you use.
"Today's vote is an affront to democracy and an affront to this country."
Nothing to report in Corbyn speech.
Blah di blah di blah
Danger in a moment during May speech. She's desperate. Might make an offer - maybe along lines of Nandy amendment - in last gasp attempt to get this over the line.
Very unlikely anything like that would work. Would just be a promise and from her they're not worth much, plus it comes too late - but don't rule her trying to pull something off.
Corbyn says there should be a general election if MPs can't find anything with a majority on Monday. Not really news, he says this all time.
May's up.
"What I want to do in minutes remaining is to set out the serious choice that faces us."
"If we do not vote for this motion today, people will ask why did you not vote for Brexit." This is clearly issued at wavering Labour MPs with Brexit constituencies.
She runs over the EU Council extension offer. May for technical, or to April 12th if no-deal. "Anyone who wants to leave with a deal would have to support a further extension."
She says approving a deal today avoids a cliff-edge in two weeks time. All this while behind the scenes working to create an immovable cliff edge a little later on.
She insist voting for the withdrawal deal would not mean a "blind Brexit". First, future document needs to be done. Second, this is not ratification. Today "gives us the time we need".
She now tries to make it sound as if withdrawal can be accomodated within choices made in indicative votes.
There it is - the offer to Nandy. If the Speaker accepted the amendment the govt would have backed it. She now says they'll try to introduce it themselves.
Claims this does not close doors, it only opens them. Outright lies. it is designed to close the door to any further extensions.
She;s giving it everything to get Labour MPs on board. "Take a step forward together."
(The Nandy amendment would have given parliament more control over the future relationship talks.)
Basically May selling this as 'just the withdrawal bit, so avoid no-deal etc, and then parliament can decide on the future relationship'.
Again, obviously, it is a lie. The function is to close off Article 50 extensions and reduce choice to her deal vs no-deal in late April.
"At this historic moment for our country, it is right to put aside self and party." Jesus.
It really is all coming down to this. On the day we were due to leave. May giving it everything to try and get her deal over the line.
"I have said I am prepared to leave this job earlier than intended to secure the right outcome for our country. And when the division bell rings in a few moments time every one of us will have to look into our hearts and decide what is best for our constituents and our country."
Wes Streeting, Lab: By sacrificing her position "she is asking us to place our trust in who will follow her."
Good intervention by Streeting. Aimed at Labour Mps more than her. If you back this - it's Boris Johnson.
If MPs vote for this right now, it will be a historic moment of downgrading of the country. We'll be trapped in her deal. This is one of those moments that'll be replayed endlessly, for decades.
She is so terrible. The scale of deception and mismanagement is astonishing.
"With all my heart I commend this motion to the House."
Fucking hell Bercow shouted 'division' so hard I thought his lungs were going to come out his mouth.
Ok here we go. Despite that last minute attempt it is still unlikely enough Labour MPs will swing to back her at this late stage. But I won't lie: Pretty fucking nervous.
The vote is tighter than before. And it is one of those moments where the future of the country hinges on the next few moments. That's not hyperbole. It's real.
Doors locked. Results in 5-10 mins probably
Looking like govt lost
Govt defeated 286 votes to 344.
Fucking hell that was intense man.
May is up. "Matter of profound regret that once again we have been unable to support leaving the EU in an orderly manner. The implications are grave."
She says the EU will require UK to hold European elections for longer extension. On Monday House will continued seeking alternative. "I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House."
Incredible. No contrition from her. No acknowledgement of what just happens. She basically scolds parliament for rejecting her deal.
This is intolerable. Utterly intolerable.
Corbyn: "This deal now has to change and if the PM cannot accept that then she must go, not at an alternate date in the future but now".
Blackford: "I suggest to the prime minister we now need to look quite seriously at the option of revocation."
Vince Cable: On Monday the House might back an option which is compatible with the withdrawal agreement. If so, will May work with MPs on that and extend Article 50 to work it through? Nothing from May.
Heidi Allen demands a People's Vote.
Caroline Lucas: "It does beggar belief the PM does not recognise a dead deal when there's one right in front of her."
"It has now been defeated three times and that is in spite of the procedural games that have been played."
Dodds urges May to change the backstop. He insists there'll be no hard border under no-deal.
OK that;s it. The House is adjourned.
OK so that got pretty sketchy.
However. I just do not see how May can bring this thing back to the House. The deal can't be brought again. The withdrawal agreement stripped from it cannot be brought again.
If she can find a way, she will. But I don't see how right now.
That suggests that regardless of what happens with the second round of indicative cotes on Monday, a request has to be made for a longer extension with the EU and the UK needs to prepare to take part in the European elections.
This would be easier with a majority for something on Monday, even if it's just for a customs union. And even better if it was customs union + referendum.
Or it could be that the government tables a genera election as a mechanism to break the dead lock during a longer extension.
We'll see. One thing though. Today was the day it was going to happen. If they'd had their way, we'd be leaving the EU in a matter of hours.
We're not.
Their grubby, cynical last-chance effort to force this thing through today failed. Now a longer extension is the most likely outcome.
People have kept on telling Remainers and critics of Brexit to shut up. They have mocked them, and slandered them as traitors, and ignored them. They've done it for nearly three years.
But today, we are not leaving the EU. If you win one battle you can a war.
Right I'm gonna write this fucker up.
Brexit Day is cancelled: May's final deception falls to pieces…
Everything you need to know about what the fuck happened today, the dirty shit they were pulling in the background, why it didn't work, and a tiny cautious bit of optimism for the future.
Don't forget to raise a cheer at 11pm tonight. The moment we were supposed to be out the EU, but will not be.
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