Parliament’s next steps on Brexit

Brexit Explained banner

When will Parliament next vote on Brexit?

There are likely to be three votes in Parliament next week.

First, there will be a vote on 25 March on the motion which the Government was required to move under the EU Withdrawal Act after Parliament rejected its deal for a second time on 12 March. This motion ‘takes note’ of a government statement which set out the Government's plan to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. This motion is amendable.

The Government is also likely to hold a third meaningful vote. The EU has offered the UK an automatic extension of Article 50 to 22 May if Parliament approves the deal next week. However, the Speaker has said that, under parliamentary rules set out in Erskine May, he would not allow the Government to hold another vote which is “substantially” the same as the vote held on 12 March. The prospect of an extension may be enough to argue that the vote is different.

The third vote will be on the statutory instrument needed to change the date of exit set out in the EU Withdrawal Act which needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. Even if MPs do not a approve a deal, the EU has still offered the UK an extension. The Government would have until 12 April to decide what its next steps will be – this is likely to be no deal or a longer extension. The Government will need to lay the statutory instrument, but the date it includes will likely depend on the outcome of the meaningful vote.

What amendments have been tabled to 25 March motion?

Which amendment?

Who tabled the amendment?

What does the amendment say?

What support does it have?


Oliver Letwin, Conservative MP

The amendment adds to the text of the motion to set out a way for the House ‘to debate and vote on alternative ways forward’. This is the amendment designed to pave the way for so-called 'indicative votes' to see whether there is a preferred way through on Brexit.

To do this, it suspends Standing Order 14(1) (which gives government business precedence) on 27 March. Instead precedence will be given to a business motion connected to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and then to other motions relating to the withdrawal and future relationship with the EU.

If there are multiple business motions, the Speaker will be able to choose.  

Cross-party support including three other Conservative MPs.

Note: Amendments are arranged in the order in which they are tabled, but also based on how they amend the motion. Amendments which replace the entire text of the motion will be ordered ahead of amendments which add to the end of the motion.

Timeline of Brexit votes in Parliament

  • December 2018: The Prime Minister originally planned to hold a vote on a motion to approve the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the framework for the future UK-EU relationship, as required under the EU Withdrawal Act. At the start of the debate Dominic Grieve amended the business motion to ensure that any future motions moved under the EU Withdrawal Act would be amendable. After four days of debate, it was suspended and MPs didn’t vote on the deal.
  • 15 January: The House of Commons voted against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal by 432 votes to 202.
  • 29 January: MPs voted on a motion to ‘consider’ the Prime Minister’s 21 January statement on what happened next. They passed two amendments. One amendment rejected leaving the EU without a deal which, although a clear expression of political will, does not change the legal default. The second was a vote in favour of the Prime Minister’s deal provided “alternative arrangements” can be found for the Irish backstop.
  • 14 February: MPs voted against a government motion, 303–258, after around 60 Conservative MPs on both sides of the party abstained on the vote. The motion ‘reiterate[d]’ its support for the approach to leaving the EU that MPs voted for on 29 January.
  • 27 February: MPs passed a motion which ‘noted’ the statement made by the Prime Minister on 26 February, as well as ongoing discussions with the EU.
  • 12 March: MPs voted against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, again, 242–391.
  • 13 March: MPs voted on whether to leave the EU without a deal. An amendment was passed which replaced the text of the Government’s motion to reject leaving without a deal in all circumstances – removing the part of the motion which acknowledged that no deal is the default unless the UK and EU ratified an agreement. As a result, the Government decided to whip against the amended motion rather than allow a free vote – in effect, voting in favour of no deal. The motion as amended passed 321–278, after a number of ministers abstained (and one resigned).
  • 14 March: MPs approved the Government's motion on extending Article 50 unamended 412–202 on a free vote. The motion stated that if the House approved a deal by 20 March, then the Government would seek a ‘one-off extension’ until 30 June to pass necessary legislation. If the House didn’t approve a deal by that point, then the motion ‘notes’ that there would need to be a clear purpose for an extension and going beyond 30 June would require the UK to hold European Parliament elections in May.
Update date: 
Friday, March 22, 2019