It was a dramatic moment when Theresa May lost a vote about Brexit in the Commons last week.
But it was just the dress rehearsal.
Because there’s another vote planned for this week which could see the Government face real humiliation – and raise serious questions about Brexit.
Last week, MPs said that the final terms of withdrawal from the European Union must be approved in “a statute by Parliament”.
That means there must be a law approving any final deal drawn up by the UK and the EU.
It’s significant because it makes absolutely certain that no deal can be agreed unless Parliament gives its approval.
However, there’s a catch.
Because it’s still Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis who have to go to Brussels and negotiate with the EU.
Realistically, they can’t involve 650 MPs in the talks.
At some point next year, or early in 2019, Parliament will be presented with a deal drawn up by Mrs May and the EU. And MPs will face a stark choice between agreeing to it, or rejecting it.
But we’ve already agreed to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
So if MPs reject the deal, it just means that we’ll leave without one. And employers in the UK are adamant that this would be the worst possible outcome.
Most MPs seem to agree.
That’s where this week’s vote comes in.
Mrs May had planned to amend the law being debated by MPs, the EU Withdrawal Bill, so that it named March 29, 2019 as the day we definitely leave the EU.
A vote on this was due on Wednesday.
But it now seems likely that Labour and Tory rebels could defeat Mrs May a second time, and stop the date being included
There’s talk that the Prime Minister could even change her mind about including the date, to avoid the humiliation of losing another vote.
If either of these things happen, it would mean that MPs want the right to reject a Brexit deal – while they’re also saying we should be willing to stay in the EU for a bit longer if needed, in order to negotiate a new deal.
To put it another way, it opens up the prospect of Brexit being delayed.
There’s one snag.
The EU itself might not let us delay Brexit. They hate the uncertainty and delays as much as we do. And they might tell us we have to leave on March 29 2019, whether our MPs like it or not.
Article from the Birmingham Mail. Read in full