Updated 26 March: You will read a lot today about MPs “taking back control” of Brexit in Parliament last night. As with other claims of “taking back control”, the reality doesn’t always match up to the hype, and what MPs have actually taken control of is not Brexit, but the timetable of Parliamentary business which will see them discuss and vote on an alternative type of Brexit to that offered by the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Government and the EU.

What this means is that over the next few days MPs will hold a series of what they call indicative votes, being a means of indicating (hence “indicative”) the options which Parliament could, if it came to it, coalesce around and approve. These options could include remaining in the single market or the customs union, or they could include a second referendum or a general election. But they will only be indicative – and even if the Government acknowledges them fully, they won’t be “approved” until voted on as actual measures in their own right. These votes are merely to see what MPs could approve, not what they do approve.

In fact, as different ministers including the PM herself have now said several times, the Government doesn’t want MPs to have the control, doesn’t think indicative votes are either useful or effective, and if they result in MPs agreeing they could support a measure that’s not in the Conservative Party’s last election manifesto, then the Government will simply ignore them. That, of course, could cause constitutional upheaval on a scale we have not yet seen and at least one MP has said that in such a case MPs would pass legislation instantly to force the Government to take notice of Parliament’s view whether or not it’s in their Tory manifesto, though it is not immediately clear how MPs themselves could force through such legislation.

Others are saying that they are now intent on taking further emerging considerations and possible action in light of the clear evidence now that Cabinet and the Government are only concerned with the Conservative Party rather than the country. Where this might lead is another thing but it is indicative itself of the way in which the Government seems to be unable to get any traction for what actually matters – stability and assurance for the country, its economy, its nationals in the UK or the EU, and EU nationals within the UK.

At present, with Meaningful Vote 3 postponed because of lack of support and May’s inability to reconcile the irreconcilable, and without any immediate sign of an actual decision that achieves something concrete coming out of Parliament, the UK has just over 16 days left in the EU before it leaves with No Deal.

Source Janet Anscombe: https://www.janetanscombe.com/news/brexit-negotiations-affecting-british-nationals-in-tenerife.html

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