March 26, 2019 / 4:32 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 4-Brexit multiple choice: How will UK parliament's indicative votes work?

(Changes date)

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - British lawmakers will wrest control of the Brexit process from the government on Wednesday in order to try to find a majority for an alternative way forward that could break the parliamentary deadlock.

They will hold so-called indicative votes on a variety of possible Brexit outcomes.

Below is how the process will work:


The debate is due to start by 1500 GMT. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow will select which of the proposals will be put to a vote. He will choose from a range of options put forward by lawmakers which include the following:

A) Constitutional and accountable government - William Cash

B) No deal - John Baron

Leave the EU on April 12 without a deal.

C) Unilateral right of exit from backstop - John Baron

Leave on May 22 with a deal amended to allow the United Kingdom to unilaterally to exit the Northern Ireland backstop.

D) Common market 2.0 - Nick Boles

An enhanced Norway-style deal which would include membership of the EU’s single market as well as a customs arrangement with the EU.

E) Respect the referendum result - Will Quince

F) Participation in a customs union - Gareth Snell

An international trade agreement which enables Britain to participate in a post-Brexit customs union with the EU

G) Revocation instead of no deal - Angus Brendan MacNeil

Revoke Article 50 if parliament does not approve a deal by four days before exit day.

H) EFTA and EEA - George Eustice

Remain a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and reapply to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

I) Consent of devolved institutions - Ian Blackford

Require UK government to secure the consent of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly before Brexit can happen

J) Customs union - Kenneth Clarke

A Brexit deal which must include, as a minimum, a commitment to negotiate a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs Union with the EU.

K) Labour’s alternative plan - Jeremy Corbyn

Opposition Labour Party plan for a close economic relationship with the EU including a comprehensive customs union and close alignment with the Single Market

L) Revocation to avoid no deal - Joanna Cherry

Revoking Article 50 if parliament does not consent to leaving without a deal

M) Confirmatory public vote - Margaret Beckett

Confirmatory public vote to approve Brexit deal before it is ratified by parliament

N) Malthouse compromise plan A - Nicky Morgan

Closely modelled on May’s deal but replacing the Irish backstop with an arrangement based around a zero-tariff free trade agreement which relies on technical solutions to move checks on goods away from the border

O) Contingent preferential arrangements - Marcus Fysh

P) Contingent reciprocal arrangements - Marcus Fysh

(For details of each: here)


The options selected by the Speaker will be included on a ballot paper and lawmakers will be asked to vote “aye” or “noe” to each of them. They will be able to vote for as many of the proposals as they wish.

Conservative lawmaker Oliver Letwin, who led the process to seize control from the government, told parliament on Monday that lawmakers would have to be willing to support more than one option in order to find a majority.

“We will all have to seek compromise. We almost know that if we all vote for our first preference, we will never get to a majority solution,” he said. “I do not believe there is a majority in favour of the first preferences of any person in this House.”


Lawmakers are due to take control of parliamentary business around 1400 GMT. The debate is due to end at 1900 GMT and lawmakers will then be given 30 minutes to record their votes.

The Speaker can then announce the results at any time before the close of parliamentary business. It is expected after 2100 GMT.

The result could show no majority for any option, a majority for several options or even a majority for all options.


Lawmakers have set out that they plan to take control of parliamentary business again on Monday, April 1 for another debate on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Opposition Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn, chair of parliament’s Brexit committee, told BBC Radio this could be used to carry out a similar process again in order to further narrow down the options.


The votes would not be binding on the government.

May said on Monday she could not commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held as parliament might vote for something which was unnegotiable with the EU, or which contradicted her party’s 2017 election promises.

Conservative lawmaker Nick Boles told BBC TV on Monday night that if the government refused to reflect the wishes of parliament, lawmakers would bring forward legislation seeking to force it to do so.


Yes. In 2003, lawmakers were given seven different options for proposed reform of parliament’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords, but no options garnered a majority. (Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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