Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Brexit Blog: January 29th Brexit Votes

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 01 February 2019 09:48

In my previous blog post about Brexit on 22nd of January, I promised that I would write again to keep constituents informed of the latest developments in the Brexit process.  So, in this piece I want to update you on the Brexit votes that took place in Parliament this week (on 29th January).

Parliament needed to agree how to move forward towards leaving the EU in an orderly way come March 2019.  There were various votes on various ideas about how to do that.

In a statement to the House of Commons after the conclusion of these votes, the Prime Minister set out the immediate path forward; “Tonight a majority of Honourable Members have said they would support a deal with changes to the backstop… it is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal. We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement”.

If you have not done so already, I would recommend you listen to the Prime Minister’s statement to the Commons or read the transcript of the statement, which can be found here:

This version also shows it directly as it happened in the Commons, including the various questions she took, which may help if you have such questions in your own mind:

I have always believed that seeing Brexit through successfully requires a deal, one that works for the whole UK and one that protects jobs and businesses here in Norwich.

I wanted to take the time in this blog to explain why I voted for the Brady amendment and against the other proposed amendments.  My voting decisions were in keeping with that belief that we have a duty to deliver on the mandate already given in the 2016 referendum, and it’s best to leave the EU with a pragmatic deal.

Turning to the most prominent of the amendments:

  • I voted against the Spelman amendment because, whilst I share the desire to avoid leaving the EU without a deal, the only way to avoid ‘no deal’ is to agree a deal.  This amendment only made half a point, in that it said was it was against but not what it was for.  I feel it is right that the Prime Minister can go back to Brussels with the clearest possible mandate to secure a deal that Parliament can support.
  • I also voted against the Cooper and Grieve amendments. I voted against these amendments because I have very serious doubts about the consequences which these amendments would cause, if they passed.  Both amendments sought to put Parliament in control instead of the Government.  Whatever your party political views, or your views on this one issue, you could have chaos and gridlock on this issue and any other if this example was set.  Additionally, neither amendment could actually deliver on the best way of avoiding ‘no deal’, which is, as I have said previously, for the House to approve a deal with the European Union.
  • I supported the Brady amendment. I believe that the Brady amendment does give the Prime Minister the mandate needed to negotiate with Brussels an arrangement that commands a majority in Parliament.  I am pleased that the majority of MPs decided to back this amendment, so now we can get on with it.

The Prime Minister will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that will address concerns on the ‘backstop’ while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  She has committed to return to the House of Commons by 13th February, I hope with such a deal, to confirm the support of the Commons before we get on and leave in March.

As always, I will continue to keep constituents updated with all the latest developments on Brexit here on my blog.  And as I have said each time, I am really grateful for everyone who is letting me know their views, which I read carefully.  As a result, I will continue my work in Parliament to support getting a pragmatic deal, because that’s what is in the best interests of my constituents in Norwich North.