Brexit indicative votes explained: how to watch the House of Commons debates live on TV

Parliament is once again set to vote on a number of alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal this Monday 1st April – check the key timings here

(Getty)

MPs are set to take part in a second series of Brexit ‘indicative votes’ this Monday 1st April.

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The House of Commons will debate a series of alternatives on Britain’s EU future following yet another defeat to Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement last week.

All eight motions were voted down during the first series of indicative votes last Wednesday 27th March.

Find out how the indicative vote process will work, as well as how you can watch the debate and result live on TV, below.

What are ‘indicative votes’?

Indicative votes are when MPs vote on a series of options to try and discover whether there is any consensus in Parliament.

This is different to the usual method of voting in the House of Commons, where MPs file through separate ‘division lobbies’ to declare where they stand on a particular issue.

With regards to Brexit, the plan is to see whether there is any way forward with Brexit that could command a majority.

Last week MPs debated a series of Brexit proposals before filling out a ballot paper listing all the options. They could vote yes or no on as many options as they liked – or abstain.

None of the options managed to earn a majority – although some were closer than others. Check the results here.

This time round there are eight different motions currently on the table. Speaker of the House John Bercow will decide which motions will go forward to a full debate.

If support for an alternative proposal is found following the indicative votes, then attention turns back to the prime minister.

The government is under no obligation to act on the indicative votes. However, given that May’s withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times already, supporters of indicative votes argue that the only alternative is to pursue a course of action which can be shown to command a majority.

What Brexit options will MPs vote on?

Four proposals have been selected by Speaker John Bercow from an original list of eight. Here are the four motions selected for debate, along with the four that were left off the vote.

Motion C: Customs union

Proposed by Ken Clarke, this motion argues that any negotiated deal should have “a commitment to negotiate a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU”. This should also be enshrined in “primary legislation”. The proposal fell just six votes short of a majority last week.

Motion D: Common Market 2.0

Brought forward by Nick Boles. Also known as “Norway Plus” – read more about the proposals here. 188 MPs voted for this plan; 283 against.

Motion E: Confirmatory public vote

Any Withdrawal Agreement cannot be implemented unless it has been approved in a referendum. 268 MPs supported this motion last week versus 295 against.

Motion G: Parliamentary Supremacy

If there is no deal agreed by the day before Brexit day, then the government will be obliged to seek another extension. If the EU refuses, then Parliament will be granted the power to decide between leaving with no deal or revoking Article 50. An inquiry into the Brexit process would follow. This motion has not been debated before.


Motions not selected for debate

Motion A: unilateral right of exit from backstop

MPs agree to the Withdrawal Agreement on the condition that it is amended to allow the UK unilaterally to exit the Northern Ireland backstop. This is a new motion which was not voted on last week. However, the EU has already said however that the backstop is not open to renegotiation.

Motion B: No Deal

Parliament agrees to leave the EU on 12th April with no deal if MPs cannot vote for a Withdrawal Agreement. A similar motion was rejected during last week’s indicative votes.

Motion F: Public vote to prevent no deal

If no agreement has been reached by the exit date, MPs will “commit to the holding of a public vote”. This motion was not brought forward last week.

Motion H: EFTA and EEA (European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area)

The UK agrees to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA), and applies to re-join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) “at the earliest opportunity”. However, the motion makes clear that the UK would not sign up for a customs union, but seek “additional protocols relating to the Northern Ireland border and agri-food trade”.

What time will the indicative votes take place?

The debate is set to take place throughout the afternoon and evening, with the vote itself scheduled for 8pm. MPs will then have 30 minutes to consult the ballot paper and cast their votes.

The results will then be announced later in the night at around 10.30pm – although these timings are subject to change

How can I watch the Brexit debate and indicative votes on TV?

Both BBC News and Sky News will be covering the votes as they happen this evening, with BBC Parliament providing live, uninterrupted coverage throughout the day.

We will update this page if there are any other changes to the TV schedules as a result of the Brexit vote.

What is the new Brexit deadline?

As things stand, a no deal Brexit would happen on 12th April unless MPs vote for the Withdrawal Agreement or another plan is agreed.

May’s Brexit deal has been rejected three times, although it is still possible that a further vote on the deal could be held – especially if there is no consensus from the latest round of indicative votes. If May’s Withdrawal Agreement does get through, Brexit could happen on 22nd May.

Many of the proposals above would require a longer extension in order to implement, which would in all likelihood require the UK to hold European Parliament elections in May.

Will MPs debate the Article 50 petition?

The petition to revoke Article 50 secured an unprecedented six million signatures in March. Parliament will now hold a debate on this petition from 4.30pm in Westminster Hall.

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Two other Brexit petitions will also be debated: the petition to hold a second referendum on EU membership, and the petition to honour the referendum result and leave regardless of whether a deal has been agreed.