No-deal Brexit rejected in UK Parliament

By Bianca Britton and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

Updated 1355 GMT (2155 HKT) March 14, 2019
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3:05 p.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Will Brexit break up the UK?

From CNN's Anna Stewart in Edinburgh, Scotland

The European Union might not be the only union facing a break up over Brexit.

Political parties in Northern Ireland and Scotland, which both voted to Remain in the EU, are seizing on the political paralysis in Westminster to push their independent agendas.

For Ireland its led by political party Sinn Fein.

The party leader Mary Lou McDonald told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Brexit is an opportunity to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic.

“A referendum on Irish unity will be absolutely essential”, she says, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

“We have a situation where the North of Ireland take a democratic decision, they reject Brexit, and yet, due to the sovereignty of Westminster, Brexit can be imposed.”

And, it’s a similar story in Scotland. 

Calls are growing here once again for a second referendum - not just on Brexit, but on their membership of the UK as well.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the case “the case for Scotland becoming an independent country has never been stronger.”

19-year-old student Abbie Archibald.
19-year-old student Abbie Archibald. Anna Stewart

19-year-old student Abbie Archibald was too young to vote in any of the previous votes, but now she has come of age.

Given the chance she’d vote to Remain in the EU, but she doesn’t think it would be democratic to do a do-over on Brexit.

It's a different story however when it comes to the possibility of another vote on Scottish independence -- she would vote to leave the UK.

“The circumstances are completely different,” she says.

“We’re now potentially not going to be a part of the EU, and Scotland could have the chance to thrive as its own country.”

50-year-old building surveyor and part-time piper Angus Mackenzie.
50-year-old building surveyor and part-time piper Angus Mackenzie. Anna Stewart

The threat of Brexit was a decisive factor in the Scottish independence referendum, says Angus MacKenzie, a Building Surveyor and part-time piper.

In the last vote for Scottish independence he voted to stay in the UK. Now, if there is a hard Brexit, he would vote to leave.

“All the arguments that were against independence, are the arguments for it now. It’s twisted round”, he tells me.

“One major argument was keeping our currency, but now the euro looks set to outperform the British pound. Another argument was wanting to stay in the EU, but now that has gone.”

73-year-old retiree Bob Gilchrist (left).
73-year-old retiree Bob Gilchrist (left). Anna Stewart

For those Scots who want to remain in the UK, the effect Brexit is having on the independence argument is alarming.

Bob Gilchrist wanted to stay in the EU, but that Brexit disappointment aside, he still wants to remain in the UK.

“There’s so much division and conflict now, who knows what people are going to vote for,” he says.

“In some ways your heart says it be nice to be independent, because we get dragged into a lot of this UK discussions without wanting to, but to me, the idea of Scotland being independent, particularly economically, is just a bit of a nonsense.”

51-year-old Fiona Vina who works at the University of Edinburgh.
51-year-old Fiona Vina who works at the University of Edinburgh. Anna Stewart

Meanwhile, for many -- like Fiona Vine who works at the prestigious University of Edinburgh, political fatigue is weighing heavily on many minds.

She says that while calls within the SNP may be growing for another Scottish Independence vote, it might not spread beyond, given the current state of upheaval.

“I’m not sure if there is appetite for that to happen again I think people are weary of politics.”

1:50 p.m. ET, March 13, 2019

MP tries to withdraw amendment which rejects a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances

Conservative MP Caroline Spelman, who proposed the amendment which rejects a no-deal Brexit at any time and under any circumstances, has told parliament that she no longer was backing it.

Spelman said she appreciated the "offers of support from other parties" but that Prime Minister Theresa May's motion offered a greater opportunity to get a "really large majority."

However John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, quickly intervened and said she could not simply withdraw it.

"If she puts forward an amendment then chooses not to move it, that's for her judgment and people will make their own assessment of that," Bercow said, adding: "It's perfectly possible for other signatories to (the amendment) who do stick with the wish to persist with it, to do so."

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said Spelman could not withdraw her amendment.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said Spelman could not withdraw her amendment. House of Commons

1:54 p.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Government hints at indicative Brexit votes

British MPs may have the opportunity to vote on alternative Brexit proposals tomorrow, Environment Secretary Michael Gove hinted earlier in the House of Commons.

When asked by an MP if the Government would grant a series of "indicative votes" on how the UK should leave the EU, Gove said it would depend "how the House votes today" and that there may be an opportunity tomorrow.

He added that it was important that parliament finds consensus on Brexit "as quickly as we possibly can."

12:49 p.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Labour pressed on whether it will support a second referendum

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer speaking in parliament.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer speaking in parliament. House of Commons

Labour continues to be challenged on whether it will in fact back a second referendum, after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn flirted with the idea last month if Theresa May's Brexit deal was rejected.

Speaking in parliament, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told MPs that Labour supports a public vote to "protect" the UK against May's "red lines" and a no-deal Brexit.

Asked if Labour would support a motion or amendment for a "people's vote," Starmer reiterated that it would, adding that "timing depends on discussions across the House and with others, but that's the clear position that we put down."

12:45 p.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Labour MP asks why a new referendum on Brexit is "undemocratic"

Hilary Benn from the UK's main opposition Labour Party has asked Environment Secretary Michael Gove why it is "democratic" for the government to present parliamentarians with a deal that's already been defeated, but "undemocratic" to allow a new public vote on whether the UK should actually leave the EU.

"Why is it democratic to keep bringing back to the House a proposition that has been overwhelmingly defeated on two occasions on the one hand, but on the other hand it's somehow undemocratic to suggest that the British people should be asked if they want to change their minds?" Labour's Benn asked.

MPs broke into laughter when Gove defended May's Brexit deal, saying it "was significantly different" from her last proposition.

The Environment Secretary then went on to call out Labour's "flip-flop" after not pursuing its original position that endorsed a second referendum.

11:51 a.m. ET, March 13, 2019

MPs "face a number of unattractive choices"

Speaking in parliament, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said Members of Parliament faced a "number of unattractive choices."

"It is important that the House realizes that all of these choices are less attractive than support for the deal that the Prime Minister negotiated," Gove said.

"We can choose as a House to leave without a deal, but there are significant economic, political and constitutional challenges if we embark on that course," he warned, adding that it would also "undermine and further erode faith in democracy."

11:42 a.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Environment Secretary opens debate by praising May for her "unselfish and unstinting patriotism"

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who has opened today's debate on a no-deal Brexit on behalf of Theresa May, began by praising the Prime Minister, who has lost her voice.

"She may have temporarily lost her voice but what she has not lost -- and will never lose -- is a focus on the national interest and a full-hearted desire to do what is right for our country," Gove, a prominent Brexiteer who has been consistently loyal to May, said.

He added that May has "always puts country first" and has spent "more than 19 hours at the despatch box ... has shown fortitude, tenacity, thoughtfulness, diligence -- and above all an unselfish and unstinting patriotism."

Environment Secretary Michael Gove opened the no-deal Brexit debate in the House of Commons.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove opened the no-deal Brexit debate in the House of Commons. House of Commons

11:21 a.m. ET, March 13, 2019

What happens after today's vote? Brexit scenarios explained

11:20 a.m. ET, March 13, 2019

Which amendments will MPs be debating today?

Two amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May's motion on crashing out of the European Union without a deal have been selected by Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.

May's motion states that the House "declines to approve" leaving the EU on March 29 without a withdrawal agreement or future relationship framework, and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default position unless the UK and EU ratify an agreement

The amendments to be debated by MPs and that could later be put up for a vote are:

Amendment (a) Rejects a no-deal Brexit at any time and under any circumstances.

Amendment (f) Calls for a delay to Brexit day from March 22 until May 22, 2019, for further preparations to take place, but acknowledges a definitive departure in 2021.