The Cross-Party Revoke or No Deal Motion

This is the motion:

If, on the day before the end of the penultimate House of Commons sitting day before exit day, no Act of Parliament has been passed for the purposes of section 13(1)(d) of the Withdrawal Act, Her Majesty’s Government must immediately put a motion to the House asking it to approve ‘No Deal’ and, if the House does not give its approval, Her Majesty’s Government must ensure that the notice given to the European Council under Article 50, of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, is revoked in accordance with United Kingdom and European Union law.

It is sponsored by a cross party group of senior MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, TIG, Lib Dem, and Plaid Cymru.

And what it says, stripping away formality, is: if all other alternatives have fallen away, such that the only options left open to the United Kingdom are No Deal and Revoke the choice between the two is one that Parliament rather than the Prime Minister must make.

And it should command considerable cross-party support.

For Conservative MPs it makes good on the promise that the Prime Minister made to the House of Commons yesterday:

“unless this House agrees to it, no deal will not happen.”

For Labour MPs it offers the prospect of delivering on their 2017 Manifesto which stated:


And Labour has continued to ask the Conservative Party to rule out No Deal.

The Motion should also be acceptable to supporters of the current draft of the Withdrawal Agreement – or some other version thereof such as Norway + or Labour’s preferred withdrawal agreement. It leaves those options available if Parliament approves them – it only applies if they fall away.

Nor does it preclude a general election. Because it applies on the penultimate day before exit day – which is a moving target that depends on what we are able to agree with the EU Council – it leaves the door ajar to a General Election.

But most of all, it should appeal to democrats. The decision of generational importance for the United Kingdom – between Revoke and No Deal – ought to be one for the representatives of the People in Parliament, and not for the Prime Minister, still less the Prime Minister of a minority Government. And this point is all the more important when one appreciates that Parliament has previously voted to reject No Deal.

No constitution founded, as ours is, on the bedrock of the supremacy of Parliament, should contemplate a Prime Minister taking a decision such as this in the face of a clear majority of MPs.


4 thoughts on “The Cross-Party Revoke or No Deal Motion

  1. The whole issue of the federalist, supra national nature of the EU has been vexing parliament for decades and more specifically, since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. This was the first major breach in individual sovereignty which has since led to a succession of reductions in the veto which in turn as left the UK largely powerless.

    Because parliament could not obtain consensus within its ranks, it took the decision to ask the people. Did they want to stay or leave? 17.4 million decided they wanted to leave. During the campaign, every senior political figure on both sides of the debate were unanimous on one point. Whatever the decision, it would be respected.

    These same people went on to say that leave means leave. David Cameron made it crystal clear that leaving meant quitting the EU, single market and customs union. There was no clouding of issues.

    Having asked the people and received an unequivocal answer, this resolve was further tested in a general election where both main parties vowed to respect the decision and at no point did anybody redefine what was meant by leaving.

    Now we are faced with a parliament that does not know what it wants. For once, I sympathise with the EU. However, parliament knows full well what the people want. The majority want out. Elegant arguments cannot get around this simple fact. 52% by head or 62% by constituency voted to leave. It is as simple as that.

    The May deal is a treaty from which extrication will be pretty much impossible, allowing the EU to string us along for as far ahead as one can imagine. This is not what the country voted for. It voted to leave, with or without a deal. Indeed, as Mrs May told us hundreds of times, no deal is better than a bad deal. This is an extremely bad deal.

    It is worth remembering that parliament is there to represent the will of the people and the current situation is pitting government against the people. This cannot end well. How it will end is open to endless conjecture, but however it all plays out, it will not be pretty. Parliament must remember why it is there and what it is for.

  2. 260 Conservatives voted against this motion last night. Offering an alternative to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and No Deal (ND) detracts from the binary choice Theresa May wants MPs to consider; it’s her deal or Doomsday. This motion offers an alternative route that relieves the pressure she is desperately trying to create within Parliament. This is why I suspect you’ll struggle to get this motion passed, although I would dearly love it to be passed. As long as the WA remains a binary choice option, along with ND, I don’t see the government or the Conservative party acknowledging revoking Article 50 as an option. I hope you/someone can find a way to overcome that.

  3. Yes, excellent. The politics are that MP’s are going to have to get so desperate (as the motion anticipates) that this will then be their lifeline. That logic means it’s a long-shot although one that must be played. Even so, you may be too relaxed about the branding; if there’s a cross-party group of senior MP’s behind it then we need to see their names up there with Joanna Cherry to demonstrate the broad support. And those MP’s need to be walking Jolyon M around Westminster to lobby their colleagues. Finally, do we have a draft instrument of revocation?; it doesn’t have to be the final form but it can be a prop to show people how straightforward this could be procedurally, thereby avoiding another red-herring. Chris Jones.

  4. I think the Bill means a draft instrument of revocation is irrelevant.

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