British MPs fail to agree alternative Brexit plan -- live updates

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Bianca Britton, CNN

Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT) March 28, 2019
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1:58 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

What Theresa May told MPs this evening

From CNN’s David Wilkinson

Downing Street has released excerpts of what Prime Minister Theresa May told Conservative MPs this evening.

You can read what she said here:

“This has been a testing time for our country and our party. We’re nearly there. We’re almost ready to start a new chapter and build that brighter future.
“But before we can do that, we have to finish the job in hand. As I say, I don’t tour the bars and engage in the gossip – but I do make time to speak to colleagues, and I have a great team in the Whips' Office. I also have two excellent PPSs.
“And I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won’t stand in the way of that. 
“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t – I hear what you are saying.
“But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit. 
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.
“I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.
4:44 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Theresa May was "was passionate but not emotional"

CNN's Bianca Nobilo is inside the House of Parliament in Westminster, where Conservative MP, Simon Hart, has gone into more detail about what happened inside the meeting.

“She has said that she will not stay through to the next phase of negotiations. If they back the deal she will go.

“No timescale was talked about or given. The implication was if she gets her deal through that will kick start the process to find a new leader almost immediately. It was a respectful atmosphere. She was as animated as I’d ever seen her at committee. She was passionate but not emotional. We are all traumatized at this point by these negotiations.”

1:50 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Lawmakers react to news that May will step down

Lawmakers are beginning to react to the news that Prime Minister Theresa May told Conservative MPs that she would step down once her Brexit deal is delivered.

Anna Soubry, who recently left the party to join a breakaway cross-party bloc known as the Independent Group, tweeted that it was "shameful" that "hard Brexiteers will vote for the PMs "deal" not because it's good for our country and the right thing to do ... but because it gets rid of the PM."

While Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "If Brexit ends up being forced through on the basis of a deal no one supports -- indeed a deal so bad that the PM has to promise to resign to get it through - it will make an already bad project even worse."

1:39 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Theresa May "will make way for someone else," Conservative MP says

Another Conservative MP who attended the meeting with backbench Conservative MPs has also told Britain's Press Association that Theresa May would "not remain in post for the next phase of the [Brexit] negotiations."

James Cartlidge told PA as he left the private meeting at Westminster:

"My recollection is that she said she would not remain in post for the next phase of the negotiations, the implication being that once the Withdrawal Agreement has passed, she would make way for someone else."
1:34 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

BREAKING: Theresa May says she will step down as Prime Minister once Brexit is delivered

From CNN's Luke McGee

Theresa May has said that she will stand down as prime minister once Brexit has been delivered, according to a Conservative Party lawmaker in a meeting with her.

“She will not be in charge for the next phase,” she told Conservative MPs.

She did not give a date for her departure.

1:13 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

HAPPENING NOW: Theresa May addresses Conservative MPs

Prime Minister Theresa May has just walked into the committee room in the House of Commons where she will address her backbench Conservative MPs. CNN's Bianca Nobilo is in the committee-room corridor in the House of Commons and says she looked "sprightly" but didn't answer reporters' questions. There was some "muted" banging on tables to welcome her as she entered, Nobilo said.

Some of her MPs have said they want her to set out a timetable for leaving the post of Prime Minister as the price of their support. There have been no indications, however, that she is prepared to be as explicit as that.

1:08 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Why do MPs "bob" up and down during debates?

The House of Commons has tweeted a video of Speaker John Bercow explaining why lawmakers often "bob" up and down during debates in parliament.

"Bobbing up and down by Members in the Chamber is analogous to a school student putting his or her hand up in class," Bercow explains. "It's a silent means of signally to the Speaker."

12:46 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Brexit Secretary hints that Theresa May will bring back her deal for a third time on Friday

Theresa May's Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has told parliament that the government will table a motion for the House of Commons to sit on Friday.

Barclay hinted that May intends ask MPs to vote for a third time on her Brexit deal. If approved, the UK would leave the EU on May 22. The EU, when it agreed to an extension to the Brexit process last Friday, said the UK would have to leave on April 12 if it can't agree upon a deal this week.

Here's what Barclay told Parliament a short time ago:

“It remains the government’s priority to secure approval of the agreement this week to allow us to leave the EU in an orderly fashion … it is only by doing this that we can be guaranteed to leave the EU on the 22nd of May and not face a cliff edge in 2 weeks’ time."
"In order to maximize our ability to secure that approval the government will later today table a motion for the house to sit this Friday. This will be taken as the last order of business tomorrow.”

Usually, MPs do not sit on Fridays so that they can spend time in their constituencies, attending local events and addressing local issues.

1:01 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Here's more about the Brexit options

Analysis by CNN's Luke McGee

Now that the Speaker has selected the motions to be voted on later, it's a good time to over the pros and cons of each.

No deal

This is in some respects the simplest option, but in other respects will cause the biggest headache. In a no-deal scenario, the UK would immediately fall out of all EU institutions and trade according to World Trade Organization terms. It would likely lead to difficulties getting food and medicine into the UK from outside and will make travelling in and out of the country complicated.

Common Market 2.0

This is the too-clever-by-half plan, dreamed up by Labour and Conservative MPs. It would give the UK access to the EU's Single Market via the European Free Trade Association, but the country would remain outside the Customs Union. This is clever because it avoids a hit to the services industry, allows the UK to trade with European nations while retaining control of its international trade policy.

The problem is, it doesn't provide a sufficient answer to the Irish border question. While the plan says that a customs arrangement could resolve this issue, such an agreement is unprecedented among EFTA members. That could make the plan a non-starter.


This plan is not a million miles from the Common Market 2.0 approach, but rules out any customs union with the EU. That means it also doesn't satisfy the Ireland question. The plan claims that there could be some kind of alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop – the insurance policy that prevents the return of border posts in Ireland. But the backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement which, as we know, is a closed matter for the EU.

Labour's alternative plan

The main opposition Labour Party's plan for Brexit is somewhat confuse and light on detail. It calls for the UK to be closely aligned with the EU on matters such as the Single Market and says that the UK must keep up to speed with workers' rights.

Crucially, it supports a permanent customs union in which the UK has "an appropriate say on any new trade deal terms."

The appropriate amount of say any third party has had over new trade deals has been zero to date, so this might be little more than wishful thinking.

Revoking Article 50

As controversial as no deal, revoking Article 50 – the legal process by which Brexit is happening – could cause serious domestic problems for the UK. The vote to leave the EU was the largest electoral turnout in British history. Overturning that is a decision not to be taken lightly.

Confirmatory public vote

This looks like a fudge. The plan says that the UK cannot ratify any Brexit deal "unless and until they have been approved by the people of the UK in a confirmatory public ballot."

It doesn't mention remaining in the EU, which leaves this plan open to interpretation. No wonder a party with no coherent policy has instructed its MPs to back it.

Contingent preferential arrangements