A new bill tabled by senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper hopes to secure powers for MPs to extend Article 50 if the Prime Minister fails to get a deal through Parliament by February 26th. It’s backed by former Tory cabinet minister Nick Boles, as well as Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan Labour’s Hillary Benn, chair of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee.
NEW: @YvetteCooperMP bill just out. Gives PM until Feb 26 to get her deal through. If she fails, Parliament will be able to direct next steps. Bill will give Parliament a vote to prevent No Deal & vote on whether to extend A50 and for how long. Backed by Boles, Letwin, Morgan pic.twitter.com/Ftvu0GuDi8
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) January 21, 2019
The plan is essentially to stop a no-deal Brexit from happening. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year with or without a deal. Writing in The Guardian yesterday, Cooper said her amendment “just gives us more time” to negotiate a deal by extending Article 50.
The Cooper amendment would allow parliamentary time for a bill which would give MPs a vote on delaying Article 50. In theory, it’ll be voted on on Tuesday 29th January. The big question is whether the Labour party will back it, which if so should secure its success, but the party has so far refused to confirm its stance. A Labour source told PoliticsHome “We’ll look seriously at any proposal to prevent a damaging no deal but no decisions have been taken on the specific amendments yet.”
Cooper says the Government “cannot just push the country into No Deal because they have run out of time”.
She adds: “The Prime Minister should rule out No Deal. But if she won’t, and if nothing else is sorted by the end of February then Parliament should be given a vote on whether to extend Article 50 instead or it will be too late.
“If the Government needs more time to sort this out and come up with a better plan they should be honest enough to admit it and take the steps needed in the national interest to make sure we don’t end up with a chaotic and damaging No Deal. If they won’t, then Parliament needs to be able to step in and put a more sensible process in place instead.”
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Cooper accused the Prime Minster of speaking “as if she lost by 30 votes, not 230 votes… we’ve heard all of this before”.
Labour have also tabled their own amendment, ruling out a No Deal Brexit and with two options:
- A Norway style arrangement with a ‘comprehensive customs union’ and a ‘strong single market deal’
- Option of a public vote
Jeremy Corbyn reportedly prefers option 1.
“The prime minister is both refusing to change her red lines or take the threat of a no deal exit off the table. MPs must now act to break the deadlock,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement.
“Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a no deal.”