MPs are trying to change the course of Brexit in a number of ways, after rejecting the deal the prime minister struck with the European Union.
Theresa May will return to the Commons on 29 January to set out the next steps in the process.
However, the opposition and backbench MPs have been tabling amendments to her motion in a bid to force the government to change direction.
Several different courses have been proposed and, in normal circumstances, one would be selected for 90 minutes of debate.
However, it is expected that the government will allow time for MPs to discuss more options.
The proposals are below. Use our guide to Brexit jargon or click on the links for further explanation.
Labour frontbench amendment
Instructs the government to rule out a “disastrous No Deal” scenario and allow Parliament to consider – and vote on – options including:
- An alternative Brexit deal involving its plan for a permanent customs union with Brussels and a version of the EU’s single market
- Legislating to hold a public vote on either a deal or a proposition that has MPs’ support
It is thought this amendment would struggle to get the backing it needs from Conservative backbenchers to succeed in forcing the government’s hand.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment
Attempts to rule out the UK leaving the EU without a formal deal (the no-deal option is supported by some Brexiteers but many MPs fear it will cause chaos at ports and disruption for businesses) by allowing parliamentary time to pass a new law.
The bill to bring in the new law would require Theresa May to seek to postpone Brexit day (currently 29 March) until 31 December, if MPs do not approve her deal by 26 February.
The prime minister would do this by asking the EU to agree to extend the two-year limit on Article 50 – the mechanism paving the way for the UK to leave the EU.
With the backing of senior Conservative backbenchers such as Nicky Morgan and Oliver Letwin, former Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb and Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake, it is thought the initial amendment has a good chance of success.
Conservative MP Dominic Grieve’s amendment
Forces the government to make time for MPs to discuss a range of alternatives to the prime minister’s Brexit plan on six full days in the Commons before 26 March.
MPs would be able to table amendments to be voted on at the end of the debate, which could include alternative Brexit options such as Labour’s plan, a second referendum, no deal and the Norway-style relationship preferred by some MPs.
This has the backing of some Labour backbenchers, as well as the SNP’s Philippa Whitford, Lib Dem Tom Brake, Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards and Caroline Lucas, of the Greens.
Labour MP Stella Creasy’s amendment
Requires the government to ask the EU to postpone Brexit day and give the public more say in the Brexit process through a 250-member “Citizens’ Assembly”.
- comprise a “representative sample of the population” to make recommendations on the Brexit process after 10 weeks of consideration
- be supported by an “expert advisory group”
- require the government to respond within two weeks
Labour MP Hilary Benn’s amendment
Calls on the government to hold a series of “indicative votes”, allowing MPs to indicate whether they might support the following options:
- To vote again on Theresa May’s deal in its current form, which sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal – including a “transition period” aimed at minimising disruption – and outlines future relations with the EU
- To leave with a “no-deal” exit, without any such agreements and no transition period
- To request the government tries to renegotiate the deal by seeking to either change the Irish “backstop” arrangement, pursue a “Canada-style” deal or aim to join the EEA and remain in the EU’s customs union
- Hold a referendum to allow British people to decide on the kind of Brexit deal they want
Labour MP Rachel Reeves’ amendment
Requires the government to ask the EU to postpone Brexit day.
Dame Caroline Spelman (Conservative) and Jack Dromey (Labour) amendment
Attempts to prevent a “No-Deal” Brexit by adding to the PM’s motion that Parliament “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship“.
None of these amendments, if successful, would be binding on the government, although support for any of them would put political pressure on Theresa May to follow their direction.
However, if Yvette Cooper’s amendment was successful, and she then managed to get MPs to approve her bill, it would become law and so place an obligation on the government.