On Wednesday 13th December, the Government suffered its first (and potentially only) defeat by Parliamentary vote in the EU Withdrawal Bill committee stages. Amendment 7 to Clause 9 passed by 309 votes for, to 305 votes against. And every one of you who sent an email to their MP via our campaign or those of other organisations, or who wrote a letter, or who Tweeted their MP support, can and should feel like you played a vitally important part in achieving this.
When a vote is this close, you can be sure that every single contact counts. And several MPs who voted in favour of the Amendment 7 change have already fed back to us about how much the public showing of support meant, and how unprecedented the level of it has been.
The amendment, which secured MPs a statutory (official) vote on whatever final Brexit Deal Theresa May and her negotiating team bring back in the 2nd half of next year, was the first vital step in stopping the Brexit runaway train and making a Hard Brexit an almost unthinkable outcome. This was the country and Parliament saying no to a harmful ploy of brinkmanship that could only result in a bad outcome and bad blood between all parties involved.
So, what’s next?
Well, there’s potentially a vote on Amendment 381, a Government-inserted change that looks to enshrine the exact time and date of exiting the EU as March 2019. This is proving equally, if not more unpopular than the wording that incited the so-called ‘Tory Rebellion’ which saw long-standing and loyal Conservative MPs table the changes to the bill that became Amendment 7. However, eager to avoid the blow of another defeat in the Commons, another amendment has been tabled by Government supporters, that could head this off by offering a ‘get out’ clause for this date, if more time is needed for negotiations.
It’s yet to be seen if this measure, Amendment 400, will be accepted by the Government, or if a vote on 381 will still be needed to avoid a No Deal outcome if the clock runs out in the Article 50 two-year countdown period – as it seems it likely will.
But, if nothing else, this ‘Meaningful’ statutory vote, demanded to occur in ‘good time’ before the exit date–whatever that ends up being–is now a huge opportunity. Parliament now have a say on how and even if we leave the EU. All that’s now required is for UK citizens to decide this isn’t the path they wish to take, and for us to help MPs hear the voices of their constituents, whatever they may be, and act in the best interests of the country (and all Unions) when the time is right.
And while we all wait to see what happens next, you can read about our plans for the coming year, from our current Chairman, Lord Malloch-Brown – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/dec/17/senior-ex-diplomat-to-advise-pro-eu-campaigns-before-brexit-deal-vote?CMP=share_btn_tw