There are various ways that Parliament could try to gain greater control of Brexit. But they'd still have to decide what they wantby Alice Lilly / January 15, 2019 / Leave a comment
The Government is widely expected to lose today’s vote in the Commons on its Brexit deal—a vote that has been already delayed since before Christmas. If the Prime Minister’s plan is voted down, then the Government is obliged to set out its Plan B to Parliament before Monday.
What is less clear is what that plan will involve—or how MPs will react to it. It is likely that Parliament will continue to try and take control of the Brexit process using a range of different parliamentary procedures.
The first question is whether the Government even survives until Monday. Labour may table a motion of no confidence in the Government following a Meaningful Vote defeat. Unlike the motion of censure they tabled before Christmas, time would be found—and quickly—for the Commons to debate a no-confidence motion.
If the Government were to lose this vote, then a 14-day clock would start ticking. Within those 14 days, if neither the Government nor any alternative government could show it command the confidence of the House, by winning a vote, then an early election would be called. Quite what this could mean for the future course of Brexit is difficult to say—and it is likely that Article 50 would have to be extended.
If a no confidence vote doesn’t emerge, MPs might try and take control themselves. We have seen a lot of talk in recent days about ways MPs across the parties could take greater control of parliamentary time in order to push the Government into a different approach.
Usually, most time in the Commons—as well as the scheduling of business—is controlled by the government. This means that most legislation passed originates from the Government, not the backbenches. If MPs were to table an amendment to the Government’s Plan B motion temporarily changing Parliament’s rules—the Standing Orders—they might prevent government legislation having precedence, then could table their own bills knowing time would be available to debate them.
One of these plans, mooted by a cross-party group of MPs led by Nick Boles MP, is for backbenchers to then table a bill requiring the Government to come up with an alternative plan. And if that fails,…