MPs could stage a series of ‘knock-out’ votes on Brexit under a radical new plan to stop the UK from crashing out of the EU without a deal, HuffPost UK can reveal.
After the historic defeat of Theresa May’s proposals on Tuesday, cross-party moves are underway to effectively force the House of Commons to find a majority for an alternative way forward.
Under a new amendment drafted by Welsh party Plaid Cymru, MPs would be asked to list their preference for a range of options including a Norway-style Brexit, a second referendum and remaining in the EU.
In a dramatic bid to break the parliamentary logjam, the traditional Commons voting system would be replaced by a series of ‘run-offs’ to find the one solution which commands most support.
The least popular option would be eliminated and a fresh vote held on those remaining, until a single solution is arrived at.
Many political parties use such multi-round votes for their own internal elections. In a bid to woo Tory support, one system proposed under the plan would be that used by the Conservatives to elect their party leader.
Blogging for HuffPost UK, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said: “As we saw last night, there is no majority support for the British government’s chosen Brexit policy.
“This is despite the reckless manner in which the prime minister has run down the clock.
“It seems to me that at this point of high crisis a potential safety net could be deployed by using a voting system designed to ensure a majority conclusion.”
Some MPs, including cabinet ministers, have backed the idea of ‘indicative votes’ on Plan B proposals for Brexit.
But indicative votes, while considering each option in turn, still run the risk of failing to find a majority for any proposal.
The new plan would abandon the binary ‘aye/noe’ voting system and instead force a choice by removing the least popular options in turn.
Six different Brexit options would be on the ballot paper: ‘no-deal’, a ‘Canada-plus’ free trade deal, May’s revised deal, ‘Norway-plus’, a second referendum and remaining in the EU.
MPs would stage a series of votes, knocking out the most unpopular choices until they arrived at a single winning solution.
A cross-party body approved by all the Westminster party leaders would be created to swiftly decide by consensus which precise voting system was used and which Brexit options were included.
The ‘working group’ would be similar to that used to address recent allegations of bullying and harassment in Westminster.
As well as the ‘iterative run-off’ or ‘Weakest Link’ system used by the Tories, an ‘alternative vote’ system, used by Labour for its leadership elections, would be considered.
The Plaid Cymru plan would take the form of an amendment to the PM’s next formal motion on Brexit, expected next Monday.
In the wake of her shattering 230-vote defeat on Tuesday night, the prime minister said she would hold meetings with “senior parliamentarians” from different parties to identify “what would be required to secure the backing of the House”.
Plaid Cymru’s own preference is for a second referendum.