With another major Brexit debate coming today, you might be forgiven for the confusion over what these debates and votes are all about. As a public service here is a short summary.
Two Brexit debates are currently on the agenda: a so-called "meaningful vote" (MV), a vote to approve an agreement with the EU; and what some call a "Next Steps" (NS) debate, a debate is planned because the MV was not passed, allowing MPs to vote on amendments on what to do next, or "Plan B".
We have had a MV so far. That was on January 15, which resulted in Theresa May's deal being rejected by a record 230 majority. And on January 29, we had a Nazi debate that resulted in May winning a vote on the Brady amendment (stating that their deal should be accepted (subject to the backstop replacement), but a vote on the Spelman Amendment request (a non-binding proposal that does not preclude agreement).
Today we have NS2. As Rowena Mason reports in her preview of the night (see below). May may be defeated by the main request, as Tory Brexiters in the European Research Group may not support them. A defeat would have no immediate practical impact, but would still be a major setback. After NS1, May wanted to tell the EU that she had at least a commons majority for something. A defeat today would mean that this majority is gone, which could cause Brussels to wonder if May is able to get anything through Parliament.
In this process, MV debates are more important than Nazi debates. Today's Nazi vote (NS2) may turn out to be very significant, but NS3, which will take place on Wednesday, February 27, will be much more crucial, because then Tory Pro Europeans will be able to unite with the opposition Amendment by Yvette Cooper should allow MEPs to rule out a no-deal Brexit. This could also be the moment in which Labor Frontbenchers resign unless Jeremy Corbyn firmly rejects a second referendum.
Since most observers believe that MV2 will not take place until March, possibly after the EU summit and just a few days before the Brexit day on March 29, there is also a chance we may even have an NS4 or NS5 debate received.
I hope that's all clear.
Downing Street still hopes to persuade the ERG to support the government in voting this afternoon. On the Today program this morning Liam FoxBrexiter's International Trade Secretary said that if Tories had not supported May, they would undermine her in the Brexit negotiations with Brussels.
He said some MPs considered voting as an "academic and ideological purity exercise," but in reality it was "the crude bargaining policy and … sending out signals about continuity and trustworthiness in negotiations." He explained:
What we say is viewed and heard by those with whom we negotiate. You will see if Parliament is consistent, because in the debates and the votes that we had recently, there were two things. Firstly, Parliament said we did not want there to be no deal and that we would join Prime Minister, if we can get changes to the Irish backstop.
Our European partners will be watching our debate and listening today to see if they have the impression that Parliament is definitely …
I think there is a risk that we will send false signals, and I think we need to understand that the public wants us to leave the European Union, but she would prefer that we leave the Union with an agreement. That is why Parliament has an obligation to ensure that we send the right signals that represent those views of the British people and represent them to those with whom we are negotiating.
Here is the agenda for the day.
After 10.30: Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, announces the Commons business next week.
23 o'clock Several Labor MPs are to speak at an event on the Love Socialism Hate Brexit in the Lower House.
After 11.30: MPs start the Brexit debate. John Bercow, the speaker, will announce which amendments will be put to the vote.
17 o'clock MEPs vote on the Brexit amendments.
As usual, I will also cover the latest political news and bring you the best reactions, comments and analysis from the Internet, but I expect you will focus mainly on the Brexit debate. I will post a summary at the end of the day.
Here you can read all current articles of the Guardian policy. Here is the summary of political news from Politico Europe. And here's the list of PoliticsHome with the top 10 must-reads of today.
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