I can now announce the result of today’s recorded votes on motions relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from and future relationship with the European Union.
In respect of Mr Baron’s motion (B)—no deal—the Ayes were 160 and the Noes were 400, so the Noes have it.
In respect of Mr Nicholas Boles’s motion (D)—common market 2.0—the Ayes were 188 and the Noes were 283, so the Noes have it.
In respect of Mr Kenneth Clarke’s motion (J)—customs union—the Ayes were 264 and the Noes were 272, so the Noes have it.
In respect of the Leader of the Opposition’s motion (K)—Labour’s alternative plan—the Ayes were 237 and the Noes were 307, so the Noes have it.
In respect of Joanna Cherry’s motion (L)—revocation to avoid no deal—the Ayes were 184 and the Noes were 293, so the Noes have it.
In respect of Dame Margaret Beckett’s motion (M)—confirmatory public vote—the Ayes were 268 and the Noes were 295, so the Noes have it.
In respect of Mr Marcus Fysh’s motion (O)—contingent preferential arrangements—the Ayes were 139 and the Noes were 422, so the Noes have it—[Interruption.]
Order. [Interruption.] Order. I am finishing—[Interruption.] Order. I am finishing my statement—I do not require any help from the Government Chief Whip. The lists showing how—[Interruption.] He will learn, so he should listen. The lists showing how hon. and right hon. Members voted will be published in the usual way on the CommonsVotes app and website and in Hansard.
It is, of course, a very great disappointment that the House has not chosen to find a majority for any proposition. However, those of us who put this proposal forward as a way of proceeding predicted that we would not this evening reach a majority, and indeed, for that very reason, put forward a business of the House motion designed to allow the House to reconsider these matters on Monday—[Interruption.]
Order. Perhaps colleagues would do the right hon. Gentleman the courtesy—[Interruption.] Yes, I say to Sir Patrick McLoughlin that I am not asking him; I am telling him that the right hon. Gentleman will be done the courtesy of being heard. That is the beginning and the end of the matter.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. If on Monday the House can reach a majority view, it would be in the interests of our constituents and the country, but I personally continue to harbour the hope that my right hon. and hon. colleagues will see fit to vote in favour of a Government motion between now and close of play on Friday, which would obviate the necessity for a further set of votes on Monday.
Thank you. I call the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The House has today considered a wide variety of options as a way forward, and it demonstrates that there are no easy options; there is no simple way forward. The deal that the Government have negotiated is a compromise, both with the EU and with Members across the House. That is the nature of complex negotiations. The results of the process this House has gone through today strengthen our view that the deal the Government have negotiated is the best option. [Interruption.] Furthermore—[Interruption.]
Order. The right hon. Gentleman must be heard.
Furthermore, although this was not a significant feature of today’s debate, any deal must include a withdrawal agreement. It is the Government’s firm wish to get the withdrawal agreement approved by this House, and I urge all Members to agree, no matter their view on what the future relationship should be, that if they believe in delivering on the referendum result by leaving the EU with a deal, it is necessary to back the withdrawal agreement. If we do not do that, there are no guarantees about where this process will end. It is for that reason that I call on all Members from across the House in the national interest to back the Prime Minister’s deal.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very serious moment for all of us. We have to reflect that this House of Commons has tried to find a way through the Brexit crisis over the last few months, and we have failed. We need to reflect on the fact, when the Government talk about bringing their deal back, that they got 202 and then 242 votes. That deal should be dead. The people’s vote got 268 votes tonight. I know we did not win, but we got more votes for a people’s vote than the Government did for their proposition. It is becoming increasingly clear that the House cannot find a way forward. The Government and the Prime Minister have failed to provide leadership. The only thing we should now be doing is going back to the people of the United Kingdom in a general election to end this impasse.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I call Sir Patrick McLoughlin.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that, following on from your ruling earlier today, none of these questions can be put again?
The particular process set in train as a consequence of the business of the House motion is a discrete process. It is the first time it has been conducted, it was approved by the House and therefore my understanding—[Interruption.] No, no, I am not debating the issue with the right hon. Gentleman. He has more or less courteously raised the point of order, and I am responding to it. I am not going to conduct a debate with him. My understanding of the situation does not entirely cohere with his, and I have explained that the motion passed by the House expressed support for a two-stage process. I will for the time being leave it there. I am extraordinarily grateful to him.
No, as I just said, I am not debating it with the right hon. Gentleman.
Point of order, Anna Soubry. [Interruption.] Point of order, Anna Soubry. [Interruption.] Point of order, Anna Soubry.
Order. Let me just explain—[Interruption.] Order. Let me just explain one thing in this place. Sir Patrick McLoughlin is a very senior Member of the House and a former Chief Whip, but he is not the Speaker of this House. It is not for him to presume the order in which matters are considered, and I trust that he will not suppose that it is for him to do so. Let me say very gently to the right hon. Gentleman that I treat him with respect, but I am not intimidated by him, and I am sure—I am absolutely sure—that he would not seek to intimidate me. I am taking a point of order from Anna Soubry, and, frankly, that is the situation. [Interruption.]
I have been called. [Interruption.] The country is watching us, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] Let me gently say to Members that I can shout as loudly as anyone, but let us try to remind ourselves what we have decided to do. [Hon. Members: “Nothing.”] Some of us have been involved in the debates and the discussions about the procedure from the outset. It is all very well for people to come in at the end of all this, but let us remind ourselves—[Hon. Members: “Patronising.”] Oh, I can patronise as well.
Let us remind ourselves that this was a two-stage process. Today was our attempt to see whether there was anything we could settle on, but also to look at where the biggest votes might be. The Prime Minister’s deal secured 242 votes, motion (J), which supported a customs union, secured 264 votes, and beating all of them was the motion for a people’s vote, with 268 votes. [Hon. Members: “It was a loss.”] Members do not need to shout it out. [Interruption.]
Order. Like any other Member, the right hon. Lady has a right to be heard, and she will be heard.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
May I suggest that we now proceed to the agreed procedure that the House adopted? May I suggest that, having settled on the matters on which there were the biggest votes, we now move forward to Monday to see if we can find a compromise, so that we can look to how we are going to give this country the leadership and the certainty that it needs and deserves?
Finally, Mr Speaker—[Interruption.] If hon. Members had not tried to shout me down, I might have finished two minutes ago.
May I suggest that we continue with our agreed procedure? It is becoming increasingly obvious that if we do settle on a deal, that deal needs to go back to the British people, and we need to see whether we can arrange that on Monday.
I note what the right hon. Lady has said. As a matter of fact, the Business of the House motion having been passed, the process is established, and—I say this for the benefit of colleagues, but also for the benefit of those attending our proceedings who are not Members of the House—the process is that a second day, Monday, has been provided for. I am not investing that point with any spin, one way or the other; it is not for the Chair to do that. I am simply reporting the factual position to the House. That is the reality of the matter. [Interruption.] It is no good somebody saying “Rubbish.” That is the reality of the matter, because it is that for which the House of Commons voted.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. After many hours of debate and an extremely complex procedure, the House of Commons has decided sweet Felicity Arkwright. I think the public will look in on these proceedings in utter amazement; they will be completely bemused by what has gone on. This attempt to seize the Order Paper has failed. The second referendum has been defeated. The revocation of article 50 was smashed. And surely the last thing we want to do, Mr Speaker, in the eyes of the public, is on Monday to go through this farce all over again.
I say this for the benefit of those who have not heard this interaction before: having known—
Yes, the right hon. Gentleman has and I have, but others have not. He and I have known each other—[Interruption.] Order. I say in a very good-natured spirit to the right hon. Gentleman that he and I have known each other for 35 and a half years, and knowing him as well as I do, I know that he is more interested in what he has to say to me than in anything I have to say to him, but the simple fact of the matter is that a process has been decided upon. It may well be that it does not suit the palate of the right hon. Gentleman; we will have to see what is said tomorrow and by other colleagues, but I repeat that I do not think he really wants much of a response from me. I respect the right hon. Gentleman greatly, as he knows; I have heard what he has said and the House has heard what he said, and I now want to hear what—
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would be grateful if you could correct or confirm my recollection. I do not know what anybody else expected, but I did not necessarily expect any motion to carry a majority today, certainly not the one I proposed, which, if I recall, has had almost an identical result to the one it had the last time it was moved in this House. My understanding of the procedure instigated by Sir Oliver Letwin was that we would first let 1,000 flowers bloom and see where we went, that that would expose some things that had perhaps little support, and that then we would seek to proceed to see whether ranking things in an order of importance made a difference.
I have to say to the Secretary of State that I thought it was somewhat extraordinary for him to come to the Dispatch Box and say that this proves that the only thing to do is go ahead with the Prime Minister’s motion, which got fewer votes than many motions that have been before us tonight. So perhaps you would tell me, Mr Speaker, whether my recollection, which seems to differ from that of some colleagues, is reasonably accurate.
Yes. It is not for the Chair to adjudicate on the merits of the arguments, and I have not sought to do so. What I did seek to do, which I thought it was proper for the Speaker to do, was facilitate the House by selecting a wide range of motions expressing different points of view and allowing those different, and in some cases contrasting, propositions to be tested. I would just very gently make the observation, again with a view to the intelligibility of our proceedings to a wider audience, that these matters have been debated over a lengthy period. Indeed, since the publication of the withdrawal agreement a little over four months ago I have chaired every single debate—and every minute of every single debate and, I think, exchange—in the Chamber on the matter. It is simply a statement of fact to say that in that period of four months and a bit, the House has not reached a conclusion. So if the right hon. Lady is asking me whether I am utterly astonished that today no agreement has been reached, I confess that I am not utterly astonished that after one day’s debate no agreement has been reached, but that is the factual position.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is there any way within the rules of order that I can point out to what might be a bemused wider world that Members were not having to choose between these eight different options, that they were able to vote for or against each and every one of them, and that they voted against all of them? If I were an unofficial Back-Bench Prime Minister, I would resign at this point, not seek to repeat such an exercise in abject failure.
As it happens, I have known Dr Lewis for precisely the same length of time, virtually to the day, as I have known Mr Francois, and the mental acuity of the right hon. Member for New Forest East never ceases to strike me. However, in relation to his proposition about being Back-Bench Prime Minister for the day, I gently say that I am not arguing with him and that, in his case, the proposition is an academic one.
Oh, very well; I will indulge Sir Patrick McLoughlin.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. You interpreted my earlier attempt at a point of order as an attempt to argue with you. I was not attempting to argue with you; I was seeking a point of clarification. The most amazing thing about the points of order that we have just heard is that nothing has been said from the Opposition Front Bench, but let us leave that aside for just a second. Can you tell me how your ruling tonight and your response to my earlier point of order coincide with what you said about the Government bringing back a meaningful vote? I think that there was an inconsistency in your ruling, and I would be interested to hear what the views behind it were.
I do not wish to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman, but I have made the point once and I thought I had made it clearly—[Interruption.] Yes, I made it very clearly. I think he disagrees with it, but the point that I was making is this: the process for which the House opted was and is a discrete process and the first of its kind. Indeed, the novelty of the process, which is welcome to some and not to others, was the subject of much comment earlier in our proceedings. I believe that it is a process, and the House decided earlier that it should be pursued over a two-day period. In those circumstances, with a specific balloting procedure set in train, I do not think that it falls into the category the right hon. Gentleman has described.
I should add that I set out the position in respect of the same question in the same Session on
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I note from the results of round one of the indicative votes process that the Father of the House’s motion on a customs union failed by a majority of eight and the motion to hold a confirmatory ballot failed by 27, and yet the shadow Brexit Secretary argued that the Government’s motion, which failed by 230 at its first attempt and by 149 at its second attempt, should somehow take precedence—[Interruption.] I meant to say the Brexit Secretary; I was just future gazing. Does that not strike you as a rather odd interpretation of the results so far, Mr Speaker?
Well, interpretations vary, which I think is clear from the points of order. The hon. Lady has made her point with some force, and I am sure that people will study it in the Official Report together with the observations of other right hon. and hon. Members.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Further to the point about how to reconcile this evening’s votes with your ruling earlier today, I note that two motions received votes significantly in excess of what the Government have achieved with their meaningful votes. Would it therefore not be appropriate for the Government to bring back their withdrawal agreement, amended to take account of the Leader of the House’s changes and modified to allow for a confirmatory vote? In that way, we may at last reach some consensus.
A variety of options is there for policymakers, parliamentarians and members of the Executive, and the right hon. Gentleman has helpfully indicated what he thinks should be the priorities in the important days that lie ahead.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last Monday, when you made it clear that no identical vote should be put to the House twice, you were also helpful in clarifying a point of order from myself that, in deciding whether a vote was identical, you would take into consideration the conditions and circumstances in which Members were having to make a decision. Since the last meaningful vote, there have been many other votes, including a number today, and many of my colleagues have indicated both privately and publicly that the conditions and circumstances therefore mean that they wish to change their mind—not least my hon. Friend Mrs Murray, who is getting married on Saturday and has just told colleagues that she would like to support another vote on the withdrawal agreement. Given that time is pressing and that a decision must be made before Cinderella appears on Friday night, please can we reconsider the conditions and circumstances around a meaningful vote?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. Some people may have changed their mind, but others have not done so, and the situation is as I have just described. I recognise the premium that the hon. Lady attaches to the matter, but I do not have anything to add to or subtract from what I have already said, for the simple reason that I think it has the advantage of being true and of continuing validity.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Notwithstanding the programme motion that says that we will be discussing these matters again on Monday and your earlier comments about the Prime Minister’s deal and the possibility of bringing it back, have you received any intelligence about whether the House will be sitting on Friday and, if it is, what it will be discussing?
The answer to that is that at this stage I do not know. As the hon. Lady will understand, that matter is not first and foremost in my hands. It may be that colleagues will discover more tomorrow if they attend business questions. After all—I say this again for the purposes of the intelligibility of our proceedings—that is the weekly occasion on which we learn from the Leader of the House the intended business for the next parliamentary week. I have a strong sense that colleagues will be in their places to listen to what the Leader of the House has to say and, possibly, to put questions to her. Enlightenment will come not necessarily tonight, but in all likelihood tomorrow, on that occasion or later in the day.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I always listen with great interest to your rulings on procedure, and I listened with quite some interest to your ruling earlier today. I would be grateful for your view on page 332 of “Erskine May,” which says:
“Standing Order No 27 allowing the Government to arrange its business in any order it thinks fit…
This far-reaching control can be further extended by the Government, if the need arises, by inviting the House to agree to a motion suspending the relevant standing orders”
Could you clarify whether my interpretation, which would give an ability to move a motion on a Standing Order so as to secure another vote or to rearrange business, is correct?
I am well familiar with “Erskine May.” The House’s ownership of its Standing Orders is a matter of established fact, which has been of long-standing significance. As to what happens in the period to come, we shall have to see. I am extraordinarily obliged to the hon. Gentleman, and I do not mean it in any spirit of discourtesy, but he has not told me something that I did not know. I am deeply grateful to him, and I feel sure he is pleased that he has made his point.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today we voted on a business motion for the proceedings today and on Monday. An amendment tabled by my hon. Friend Gareth Snell would have allowed us to vote on removing paragraph (2) so that we do not vote on Monday. This special arrangement was originally going to be for one day. I understand that you decided not to select the amendment but, given the problems we now have, would it not be sensible to vote again tomorrow on whether we actually want to continue with this on Monday?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady. That is an innovative thought on her part. She says the position was originally going to be for one day, and I do not mean this in any spirit of unkindness or discourtesy, but the answer is no. The original form of the motion specified two days, not one day, and it specified what its mover wanted, rather than what the hon. Lady might have wanted. There was that alternative proposition, and my view was that the House would be keen to get on with the substantive debate on a vast miscellany of different motions and that the House should be invited to decide the business of the House motion. The House decided the business of the House motion, and the business of the House motion specified two days. I absolutely understand that that does not please her, but that is the factual answer to the perfectly reasonable question she put to me.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Clearly the decisions taken tonight were to defeat all the motions you selected but, of course, there were eight other proposals that you chose not to put to the vote—that is absolutely your right—and on which the House has not had a chance to reach a decision. Many of those proposals were signed by a number of Members on a cross-party basis. Personally, I do not agree with most of them. However, we have not tested the House’s view on them. What is your intention on those motions that were not chosen for debate? Can they now be considered on Monday to test the House’s opinion?
My understanding of the intention of the architect of the process is that it was intended, ideally, to reach a conclusion in one day, but more likely to result in a shortlisting. Therefore on the second day, with a narrower field of relatively popular, if not sufficiently popular, propositions, it would be possible to reach a conclusion between those remaining high contenders.
Off the top of my head, I would not automatically have thought it was the wish of the architects of the procedure, or the most obviously sensible course, to test those propositions that were not selected in the first place. I am happy to consider the point, but I would not have thought so.
I know the hon. Gentleman is not criticising, and he asked his question in an extremely reasonable way, as he always does, but in so far as Members or others might ask, “What motions were not selected and why?” the answer is that I was making a judgment about the breadth of the issues, the numbers and range of support, and where there was duplication, as he will attest there was, I tended not to choose two propositions on the same subject but rather to arbitrate between competing claims. It would not seem to be obviously sensible simply to opt for the other of the two competing claims. I would have thought it is more sensible, if we have that second day as the House has voted to do, to seek to make further progress from those propositions that were tested today. That would be my instinct, but I am always open to representations from colleagues.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I particularly referred to the so-called “Malthouse compromise”, which has signatures from at least three different parties. You did not select it for debate, so this procedure has not had the chance to test the House’s opinion on it. Why could it not be brought back as a specific issue, given the range of support there is across political parties for it?
I am happy to consider the point. As I say, I thought that I had chosen a range of propositions that reflected the key issues in the debate and the key preferences for outturn. I am speaking off the top of my head, as colleagues can see. I had some regard also to a consideration that has always been adjudged to be important, by Members on both sides of the House and on both sides of the Brexit argument: the likely capacity to deliver an outcome. That was a factor in my mind, especially in view of pressure of time and the need to work with other partners.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This relates back to the earlier point of order made by Dr Lewis. He said that the “temporary Prime Minister” should resign. Given the two huge defeats for the Prime Minister, have you had any intimation that, following her discussions with her parliamentary colleagues this afternoon, she will be coming before the House in the next few days to announce her resignation?
I have certainly received no such indication at all. The Prime Minister was here today. To be fair, she has been a most assiduous attender in the Chamber, in making statements to the House and responding to questions, often for very appreciable periods of time. Obviously, she will be here next week for Prime Minister’s questions, and we fully anticipate and look forward to that. I have received no such notification. I am aware of media reports, but I would not have been present at any meetings that took place earlier this afternoon, for obvious reasons. The hon. Gentleman has made his own points in his own way, with his customary style and puckish grin.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have commented previously that your determinations—your rulings in this place—depend on precedents, context and circumstances. Many of us believe that the context of a meaningful vote 3 has changed in the light of the votes this evening. Could you provide some guidance as to what would constitute context and circumstances changing in your mind, so that we can be assured as to whether or not a meaningful vote 3 is possible?
I think the hon. Gentleman can readily extrapolate from things that I have said before on this matter. I made a clear statement on
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is both a national tragedy and a national embarrassment. Is this situation not partly down to the fact that we tried to reduce a complex issue with very many possible versions of Brexit into a simple, binary choice? Does this evening not demonstrate that we must now set out clearly what the choice is and return it to the British people? Will you confirm, Mr Speaker, that the greatest number of votes cast today were for a confirmatory public vote on a defined choice?
The factual record speaks for itself. The political point that the hon. Lady perfectly reasonably makes—it is not a party political point, of course—is not one for me, but she has made her point with her typical sincerity and sense of insistence on what she believes to be right, and I respect that. How these proceedings—in all the time I have known the hon. Lady, she has been concerned about this—are viewed by people outwith this place, I do not know. However, it seems to me, if I may say so, that it is a matter not just of the content of what is said but of how it is said that is of the foremost importance. In my experience, the hon. Lady plays the ball rather than the man or woman. If we can, albeit amid inflamed passions and strong conflicts of opinion, maintain that basic respect for each other and that civility of discourse, that has to be in our interests, both in respect of this issue and reputationally for the future.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Further to the points of order made by my hon. Friends the Members for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) and for Mid Worcestershire (Nigel Huddleston), I am not seeking to challenge what you are saying, Sir, but may I ask you what scope exists? We are clearly in uncharted waters and difficult times for both Parliament and the country. Does the scope exist for you to consider overnight, perhaps taking advice from Clerks or others, and reflect on the criteria for the material changes to which you alluded in your statement earlier in the Session with regard to the Government’s being able to bring back a meaningful vote 3? If you could reflect on the criteria that would allow it to happen and realise that, as you have rightly said, this Parliament cannot be hog-tied just by precedent—we are an organic democracy and Parliament—I think that, given the circumstances raised by both of my hon. Friends and others, that could be done, and it might be wise to be done to facilitate still further this ongoing debate, further to Monday.
I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. Colleagues talk to each other and I talk to senior Members of the House—representatives of the Government, Law Officers and others—from time to time. I do not say it at all unkindly but I do not feel that the hon. Gentleman has put to me anything that has added to what has already been said; he has to some extent attempted to reinforce the views that have been expressed by other colleagues and with which he may himself sympathise. In so far as he feels he has made his point—and he has made his point—I am greatly obliged to him.
No, no, there is no further to it. The hon. Gentleman has made his point, I have responded to it, and that is that.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given that no single option has so far found a majority in this House, would it not be sensible to suggest to those who can do a bit of math, and in the spirit of compromise, that we put together two options that are not mutually exclusive? For example, we could put together a people’s vote with the deal suggested by the Prime Minister, because in that way a combined option might actually make it over the line.
I hear what the hon. Lady said, but I do not think it is for me to adjudicate. Colleagues talk to each other, all sorts of propositions are advanced, and they sometimes reflect compromises between people who are of a very different mind and sometimes between people of a similar mind but a different tactic. Anything is possible. It is a good question but, if the hon. Lady will forgive me—I do not mean this critically—it is inevitably an abstract question, in that it does not attend to one particular circumstance, so it is not something on which I can give a verdict. But is it possible for colleagues to communicate with each other about these things in the period ahead, both in the short term and in the medium term? Of course it is possible, and I feel sure that people will do so.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend Kate Hoey about the selection of amendments today—I have the sincerest deference to your decisions and do not seek to challenge them—the motion laid by Sir Oliver Letwin on Monday did not specifically refer to the Order Paper of the following Monday being taken up for more indicative votes. Would it be in order if, on Monday, a third day was sought for indicative votes, given that that was not specified in the original motion? Would it therefore be possible to consider amendments to that motion on Monday, so that we do not end up with further days to repeat this process being claimed every day, with our ending up no further forward in this exercise?
It would be perfectly possible for an amendment to any business of the House motion on Monday to be put to me for consideration. In other words, if the hon. Gentleman is asking, for the sake of simplicity, if he could have another go, it would be perfectly open to him to have another go. I am not going to give him any advance promise or indication of likely judgment, but it is perfectly possible for that matter to be considered in the round. He may want to take his chances if that scenario plays out.