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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1:34 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


12:33 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

33 Conservatives defy Theresa May and back indicative votes

A total of 33 Conservative MPs defied Theresa May and voted in favor of the motion that secured indicative votes for this evening.

The Prime Minister had attempted to whip against Tory lawmakers voting for the motion.

The 33 Conservative MPs who defied the whip.
The 33 Conservative MPs who defied the whip. House of Commons

12:26 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Kingston may once have been Remain territory. That doesn't seem to be the case any more

From CNN's Nina Dos Santos and Sebastian Shukla in Kingston-Upon-Thames, London

Canvasing public opinion on the turmoil that is Brexit, CNN headed to Kingston Upon Thames, an area that voted to remain in the European Union with 61.6% back in 2016.

Resident Margerie Hay said when it came to the public vote, she voted to leave. "I think we did very well before we went into Brexit ... The economy was doing very well. I don’t see why we should have to be subjected to ridiculous amounts of money to them [the EU]. We had to pay to go in, so why do we have to pay to come out?"

She thinks people should be given the opportunity to make a final decision on the Brexit deal now that negotiations are through but suggests that more people would come round to her way of thinking.

"We weren’t informed enough about it. I think the sensible people would vote to come out. I’m in the minority in Kingston -- I don’t know why," she added.

Pensioner Denis Lackie voted to leave the EU back in 2016.
Pensioner Denis Lackie voted to leave the EU back in 2016. CNN

Another pensioner Denis Lackie said he too voted to leave. "The best we can hope for [is] that May gets [the] deal through and steps down and we start negotiating a trade deal."

12:20 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

If there was a Brexit capital of the UK, Boston might just be it

From CNN's Anna Stewart and Katie Polglase in Boston, Lincolnshire

The town of Boston in Lincolnshire voted with a 75% majority to leave the European Union during the 2016 referendum.
The town of Boston in Lincolnshire voted with a 75% majority to leave the European Union during the 2016 referendum. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The medieval market town of Boston has found fame in Brexit. It recorded the highest Leave vote in the UK: 75.6%.

Speaking to people in its bustling town center reveals that Leavers haven’t changed their mind in the years since.

Friends David Cotgreabe and Peter Hewitt, both pensioners, said they’d rather have the Prime Minister’s deal than no Brexit at all. A hard no-deal Brexit doesn’t scare either of them.

Hewitt said, “There’s going to be problems whatever we do. With a no-deal Brexit, people try to scare you … Nobody knows what's going to happen until it actually happens.”

They would be open to being part of the European single market, like Norway, but only if there were tighter controls on immigration.

Boston has the highest proportion of immigrants outside of London, with immigrants comprising about 27% of the town's population, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Hewitt says it has put too much pressure on local services, and the immigrants don’t learn English or integrate into society. 

Clive Warriner, another local pensioner, wants the UK to leave the EU, and if it has to be a no-deal then so be it.

As for the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Deal, Warriner chuckled and said, “I don’t know what it is, I don’t think she even knows what it is.”

Lynn Booth, pictured left, tells CNN she would change her Remain vote if given the option of a second referendum.
Lynn Booth, pictured left, tells CNN she would change her Remain vote if given the option of a second referendum. CNN

Not only have Brexiteer minds remained unchanged, but the few who actually voted to Remain, told me they have lost their appetite for Europe.

Lynn Booth was having a cup of tea before she went to work when she spoke to CNN. She’s a part-time microbiologist for the National Health Service. Back in 2016, she voted to remain in the EU but given another opportunity she’d opt to leave.

“I think the EU, Brussels, are very arrogant, I think the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is arrogant and so is the French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.”

It doesn’t bode well for those Remainers pushing for a second referendum. Disappointment with the government, Westminster, and the tough stance of the EU have all contributed to increasing anger and frustration in Boston.

12:34 p.m. ET, March 27, 2019

Will Theresa May be able to bring her deal back for a third vote?

From CNN's Matt Wells

The leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, said earlier today that the government wanted to put the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament a third time before the end of this week. Speaker John Bercow has ruled that the motion put before MPs must be substantively different from the previous two occasions, citing the precedent that the same motion can't be put before Parliament twice in the same session.

In the light of the reports that a third vote might take place on Thursday or Friday, Bercow repeated that warning from the chair just now. And he also warned the government against using procedural devices to get around it.

This is what he said:

“I understand that the government may be thinking of bringing Meaningful Vote 3 before the House either tomorrow or even on Friday. I do expect the government to meet the test of change. They should not seek to circumvent my ruling by means of tabling either a notwithstanding motion or a paving motion.”

That's setting off all sorts of alarm bells. It would be deeply ironic if, having finally secured the support of arch-Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, and momentum flowing in the direction of her deal, the Speaker prevents it being voted on.

Such a move would cause even more bad blood between the Speaker and the government than exists now. And it would make things very problematic for Downing Street. Most commentators think the only way around that would be to dissolve this parliamentary session and start a new one. The trouble is, that would involve the Queen, who must give her assent to such a move. Buckingham Palace would be very nervous about a constitutionally apolitical monarch being inserted into a sensitive political situation.