1. ITV Report

MPs to take part in a series of indicative votes as search for most favoured Brexit plan begins

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

MPs are set to vote on a series of options that will decide which Brexit plan has the most support in Parliament after it seized control of the Commons agenda to force a series of “indicative votes”.

The precise voting system is not yet known, but it is understood that MPs will be asked to vote Yes or No to each of the options put before them.

Several options have been tabled - such as revoking Article 50 or agreeing a new customs union - and Speaker John Bercow will select a number for discussion and votes on Wednesday.

The move follows a dramatic turn of events where MPs seized control of the Brexit agenda on Monday night – potentially paving the way for a “softer” deal that keeps the UK closer to Brussels.

  • Indicative votes: what could happen?

The list of options which MPs could vote on include:

  • Labour' plan for a close economic relationship with the EU
  • Common market 2.0 which proposes UK membership of the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area
  • Confirmatory public vote which would see the public ratify any Brexit deal agreed by Parliament
  • Customs union - this would see a commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” in any Brexit deal
  • Malthouse compromise Plan A - Theresa May's deal but with the controversial backstop replaced by alternative arrangements
  • Revoke Article 50 - if MPs cannot agree on a Brexit deal and no-deal is voted down, then Article 50 would be revoked
  • EEA/EFTA without a customs union
  • No deal
  • Unilateral right of exit from backstop
  • Consent of devolved institutions - the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal, and the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly must agree to any deal
  • Contingent preferential arrangements - the UK would seek preferential trade arrangements with the EU, in case the UK is unable to implement a Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc
  • Contingent reciprocal arrangements - carry on as we are, but outside the EU if no deal is agreed on
The Commons will vote on a series of potential Brexit outcomes on Wednesday. Credit: PA

The first round of voting is set to take place on Wednesday with further debtates and votes planned for Monday in order to whittle down the list.

Shortly before the votes, Prime Minister Theresa May will face Tory MPs at a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee as she battles to save her premiership and her Brexit deal.

Mrs May secured no more than 242 out of a possible 650 votes for her deal, and she admitted on Monday she cannot guarantee a majority for it.

The prospect of MPs voting in support of a soft Brexit or second referendum appears to be winning some Tory Eurosceptics round to reluctantly backing her deal.

Arch Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg said that "the choice seems to be Mrs May's deal or no Brexit".

“I have always thought that no deal is better than Mrs May’s deal, but Mrs May’s deal is better than not leaving at all,” the European Research Group chairman said on a ConservativeHome podcast.

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When asked on Tuesday night if he would be voting for Mrs May's deal, Boris Johnson said he wanted to see a change in the UK's negotiating approach before the second phase of talks.

The former Foreign Secretary said: "I think it's still posssibe that we could go for no-deal.

"But what I want to hear is that if this Withdrawal Agreement is to make any sense at all, then there's got to be a massive change in the UK's negotiation approach."

At a Telegraph event, Mr Johnson hinted he could come around to supporting the prime minister's deal

He said: "If we vote it down again, I think there is now an appreciable and growing risk that we will not leave at all."

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has also decided to back Mrs May's Brexit plan as it was "best of some pretty awful options".

He told ITV News: "It was a very reluctant decision, I don't like the deal."

Amidst the various options, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said a third Meaningful Vote could still make a come back.

He tweeted: "It looks as though Meaningful Vote lll comes back from the dead on Friday. That is what cabinet expects."

He said senior Tories believe Mrs May can get momentum for her deal if she announces her depature on 23 May - the date the UK would leave the EU if the prime minister's deal is backed by Parilament.

However, he added that ministers "absolutely don't know" if and when the prime minister will announce her depature.

  • Where does the DUP stand?

So far, the Democratic Unionist Party has given no indication it will end its opposition to the deal.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson wrote for the Telegraph website: “There are some colleagues who I admire greatly and who have stood firmly with us in defending Northern Ireland who now take the view that the Withdrawal Agreement, even though it is a rotten deal, is better than losing Brexit.

“To them I say that, if the deal goes through, we have lost our right to leave the EU.”

He suggested that a long extension to Article 50, keeping the UK in the EU, was a better option than the Withdrawal Agreement even if it meant leaving without a deal at the end.

The DUP's Brexit spokesperson said that a long extension to Article 50, keeping the UK in the EU, was a better option than the Withdrawal Agreement. Credit: AP

On Monday, MPs will also debate a petition calling for Brexit to be halted by revoking the UK’s withdrawal letter under Article 50 of the EU treaties.

The Government has however, rejected a petition with more than 5.75 million signatures calling for Brexit to be halted by revoking Article 50.

In an official response posted on the parliamentary petitions website, the Government said: "This Government will not revoke Article 50. We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union."

The petition has received more support than any other in the history of the parliamentary website.

Meanwhile, Mrs May was braced for further Commons revolts on Wednesday, with Cabinet ministers demanding free votes on the various Brexit options set to be presented and Eurosceptics poised to reject the domestic legislation delaying the date of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Government defeat on Monday night saw three ministers resign as 30 Tories rebelled to back Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment to give MPs control of the Commons agenda in order to seek a Brexit plan which can command a majority.

In the aftermath of Westminster wresting control of the Brexit agenda, Europe's chief neogtiator Michel Barnier said "all eyes" were on the British Parliament.

The Prime Minister warned she would not feel bound by the results of any indicative votes.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Government must “take this process seriously”.

  • ITV News Europe Editor James Mates explain's Brussels' reaction to events unfolding in Westminster
Key dates if Article 50 was to be extended. Credit: PA Graphics