Lewin Amendment Explainer

Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin again attempt to take control of Parliamentary business for the third time. However, instead of another series of indicative votes, Cooper has presented her own legally binding Bill aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to extend Article 50 and avoid No Deal next Friday (Parliament has published their own explainer here). This is different from all other amendments as, if passed, it would legally require the PM to do as Parliament mandates. Any extension would of course still depend on unanimous agreement by the EU27 member states.


At 5pm BST, MPs will again vote to take control of the Parliamentary timetable in order to allow time for the above Bill to be put forward. Should the motion be agreed to, the Bill would be pushed through Parliament at superspeed with time allocated for the first reading (once the motion is passed), the second reading – at 7pm – and then the committee phase which will be at 10pm, all in one day with the Bill then going to the House of Lords tomorrow.

There are (at the time of writing) three amendments tabled to Letwin’s Parliamentary Business motion:

  1. Amendment (B): Mark Harper (Con)
    • Leaves the motion as it, but seeks to delay its progress by moving the allocated Parliamentary time to TOMORROW
    • Backed by pro-Brexit Conservative MPs looking to frustrate any extension of Article 50
    • Unlikely to pass given Parliament does not want No Deal
  2. Amendment (C): Robert Syms (Con)
    • Cooper Bill can only proceed if TWO-THIRDS of MPs vote for it at the 2nd reading
    • Another Brexiteer attempt to stop any extension of Article 50
    • Unlikely to pass for the same reasons as above
  3. Amendment (A): Hillary Benn & Margaret Beckett (Lab)
    • Asks for a series of indicative votes on Monday 8th
    • This does NOT take into account that May has now agreed to hold a series of Govt-endorsed indicative votes should her efforts with Corbyn fail, although it does now act as an insurance policy to give time for this
    • Likely to pass given the previous support for this type of amendment

The Cooper Bill itself can also still be amended.

We expect the Govt to whip against the main Letwin business motion and the Benn Amendment. It will be a close call whether they pass on this occasion, given that the PM is trying to move the Brexit process along herself with last night’s announcement of cross-party talks.

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