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The Meaning behind the Meaningful Vote.pdf (81.87 kB)

[Blog] Brexit update: the meaning behind the second meaningful vote

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posted on 2023-06-08, 21:24 authored by Tom Frost
The House of Commons revisited the Government’s 585 page Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union (EU) on 12 March for a second ‘meaningful vote’. The ‘meaningful vote’ is the common name given to section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which compelled the Government to bring forward an amendable parliamentary motion at the end of the Article 50 negotiations with the EU. Before the exit agreement is ratified and incorporated into UK law through an Act of Parliament, the House of Commons must approve the withdrawal agreement via a motion and the House of Lords must consider that same motion. The first meaningful vote took place in the Commons on 15 January 2019, which resulted in a 230-vote defeat for the Government – the worst defeat for a UK Government in modern history. Central to this defeat was the opposition of Conservative backbenchers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to the ‘Irish backstop’. The backstop is an insurance policy, ensuring the Irish border remains open, which honours the Belfast Agreement of 1998. If the negotiations between the EU and the UK on the future trading relationship between the two are not successful, under the backstop the whole of the UK enters a ‘single customs territory’ with the EU. In addition, Northern Ireland would remain aligned to the Single Market to ensure the Northern Irish border remained open.


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