This post was updated at 1153 on 3 July to correct the voting record and figures for Anneliese Dodds and Layla Moran. My apologies for getting the figures wrong in my original version.
In the final debate on the Queens’ Speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday 29 June MPs had a chance to test Theresa May’s fragile majority as Labour tried to frustrate the Tories’ hard-line Brexit plans.
The House considered two particular amendments. The first, put forward on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell included these words:
regret that [the Queen’s Speech] fails to … recognise that no deal on Brexit is the very worst outcome and therefore call on the Government to negotiate an outcome that prioritises jobs and the economy, delivers the exact same benefits the UK has as a member of the Single Market and the Customs Union, ensures that there is no weakening of cooperation in security and policing, and maintains the existing rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.
Anneliese voted in favour of this amendment but it was defeated 323 – 297, a majority of 26.
The second, proposed by Chuka Umunna said:
regret that [the Queen’s Speech] does not rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal, guarantee a Parliamentary vote on any final outcome to negotiations, set out transitional arrangements to maintain jobs, trade and certainty for business, set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market, set out clear measures to respect the competencies of the devolved administrations, and include clear protections for EU nationals living in the UK now, including retaining their right to remain in the UK, and reciprocal rights for UK citizens.
Anneliese abstained on this amendment, which was defeated 322 – 101, a majority of 221.
Once these amendments had failed the final vote on the Queen’s Speech was carried 323 – 309, a majority of 14. Anneliese voted against the motion.
We can also note that Oxford West & Abingdon’s new LibDem MP Layla Moran abstained on the first of these amendments, voted for the second and against the final motion.
Local LibDems and Greens were quick to jump on Anneliese’s record. Anneliese campaigned vigorously for Remain in the Euro referendum. In her general election campaign she said she accepted the referendum result and would not oppose Brexit, but she would fight hard for it to be the best it could be, with as little adverse impact on jobs, the status of EU citizens etc. as possible. Here’s a sample from twitter:
— Conor McKenzie (@ConorMcKenzie) June 29, 2017
Very disappointed my Lab MP voted with Tories https://t.co/LBdAhLqKy4
— Roz Smith (@RosalindRogers) June 30, 2017
Why didn’t Lab Oxford East MP vote to keep single market?election leaflets said it was important, disgusted Labour support 4 Tories! https://t.co/pNZqF8Infh
— Roz Smith (@RosalindRogers) June 30, 2017
Newly elected Oxford East Labour MP breaks first election promise as she fails to back Westminster vote to stay… https://t.co/YU8SlLdhLB
— Oxfordshire Greens (@greenoxford) June 30, 2017
.@BBCr4today East Oxford Lab MP – in big remain voting area – failed to back Umunna amendment despite promising to oppose ‘extreme Brexit’
— EastOxfordGreens (@EastOxGreens) June 30, 2017
In an email Anneliese said she voted for the Labour (first) amendment, because it unambiguously said that the worst possible outcome from the Brexit negotiations would be ‘no deal’; it held the government to account for its claim that it could deliver the ‘exact same benefits’ as single market membership and the customs union without being in the single market; and required the government to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, and British people living in the rest of the EU. She also felt it had a better chance of being passed than the Umunna amendment, which turned out to be the case even though both amendments failed.
She said “Bizarrely, some have interpreted my voting for the Labour amendment as being in favour of ‘hard Brexit’, when it was quite the opposite and no-one reading the amendment could have come to that conclusion. I think this may be because the contents of the Labour amendment relating to Brexit have not received as much publicity as Chuka’s amendment.”
Readers will make up their own minds, but it’s perhaps a warning that twitter is not the most reliable medium if you want to really understand a story!
Source of data – Hansard Online. Labour amendment – Division 2; Umunna amendment – Division 3; final vote – Division 4.