News | Published December 22 2019

2019 Review: Meaningful votes

As we approach the end of the year, we have collected a selection of the most influential political events of 2019. In this article, we focus on the three meaningful votes.

Parliamentary votes on Brexit, more commonly referred to as meaningful votes, were enshrined in the European Withdrawal Act 2018 to ensure any deal agreed by the government could be scrutinised by parliament.

After Theresa May had secured her Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, it was voted on three separate times by parliament.

The first vote was originally scheduled for 11 December 2018 but was rescheduled when it became clear that the government would lose. 

Instead, the vote occurred on 15 January and the deal was voted down by a margin of 230, with 432 MPs voting against it and only 202 supporting.

The deal was put in front of parliament again on 12 March and was again defeated, although by a lesser margin. In the second vote, 242 MPs supported the deal with 391 opposing.

The third vote followed parliament’s decision on the 14 March, largely based on the failure of the previous meaningful vote, to extend Article 50 to June 30.

The Speaker was originally reluctant to allow a third vote as he ruled “the same proposition” could not be voted on again during the same parliamentary session.

However, after the Political Declaration was removed from consideration, leaving only the Withdrawal Agreement itself, the Speaker agreed to a vote.

The third meaningful vote occurred on 29 March, with Theresa May promising to resign as prime minister if it was voted down. The final result was another defeat for the government, albeit with the smallest margin so far: 286 MPs voting for the deal and 344 voting against. 

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
December 22 2019

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