January 30 8.30am Mike Blanchard’s daily e-mail reports this morning the following Labour abstentions on the Cooper amendment:
- Tracy Brabin
- Judith Cummins
- Gloria De Piero
- Yvonne Fovargue
- Mike Kane
- Emma Lewell-Buck
- Jim McMahon
- Melanie Onn
- Ruth Smeeth
- John Spellar
- Stephen Twigg.
Now one must be very careful with absentions, since one can’t tell whether an MP who has abstained did so deliberately or, say, was ill (as is Paul Flynn, who can be added to the list above. Still, the names are suggestive enough to report.
21.15 Here’s the list of Labour MPs who voted for the Brady amendment. All of them voted against the Cooper amendment.
- Ian Austin
- Sir Kevin Barron
- Jim Fitzpatrick
- Roger Godsiff
- Kate Hoey
- John Mann
- Graham Stringer.
21.00: Elsewhere on this site, Mark Wallace is listing Conservative MPs who voted against the whip on important amendments. Here is a list of 14 Labour MPs who defied their own on the Cooper amendment.
- Iain Austin.
- Sir Kevin Barron.
- Ronnie Campbell.
- Rosie Cooper.
- Jim Fitzpatrick.
- Caroline Flint.
- Roger Godsiff.
- Stephen Hepburn.
- Kate Hoey.
- John Mann.
- Denis Skinner.
- Laura Smith.
- Gareth Snell.
- Graham Stringer.
With the exception of Fitzpatrick and Hoey, all represent midlands and northern seats. Most of these are in Leave-voting heartlands, though Godsiff’s Birmingham Hall Green seat plumped for Remain in 2016.
Godsiff is also on record recently as favoring a second referendum. But the moral of this particular story is that Jeremy Corbyn should – as he is well aware – handle pressure for another poll with extreme caution.
Support for one among London Labour may catch the eye and command media coverage. None the less, there’s a lot of resistance to a second referendum on his backbenches – and front bench too.
20.45: Earlier today, we wrote that “if the Cooper amendment falls and the Brady amendment passes, a signal will be sent to the EU that the Commons wants substantial changes to the backstop, and that the Government has re-established a degree of control over Brexit policy, at least for the moment”.
And so it has proved. The amendment passed by 317 to 301. That’s impressive Tory discipline again. And it will be worth looking out for the names of Labour MPs who abstained.
All in all, May’s gamble has paid off in whipping for the Brady amendment. She can now seek to go to Brussels armed with a Commons vote for something, and perhaps with the new Malthouse Plan that is winning support across her Party.
But a happy morning will be followed by a problematic tomorrow. The EU will be quickly out of its traps to rubbish Malthouse, Brady – and May. As the psalm doesn’t put it: “joy may last through the night, but weeping comes with the morning”.
20.30: The Spelman amendment passes by 318 – 310. It’s declaratory only – but the division lists will tell us which Conservative MPs have signalled clearly that they ultimately prefer No Brexit to No Deal.
20.15: The Cooper amendment fell by 321 votes to 298 – a majority of 23. We don’t have the division figures yet, but it’s clear that the role of Labour MPs was crucial.
For this result to have happened, a sufficient number of Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats, worried that backing the amendment would be seen as a “betrayal of the referendum”, must have either voted with the Government or abstained.
The amendment would have allowed for a Bill to seek the extension of Brexit – and, rightly or wrongly, extension will be read by many as a preparation for revocation.
Conservative discipline looks – for once? – to have held up well. Not a bad evening for Theresa May so far. If the Brady amendment succeeds, it will become a good one.