By Jasmin Gray
Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A day for roses, champagne and, because it’s 2019 and Brexit dominates everything, a humiliating defeat for Theresa May in the House of Commons. (Though if you’re Jeremy Corbyn, it might have been the exact present you were hoping for this February 14).
But what were MPs even voting on? Wasn’t there just a load of votes about Brexit about couple of weeks ago?
Never fear. If you were too busy wining and dining your beloved (or watching Bridget Jones alone in your pyjamas) to keep up with every minuscule update in Westminster, we’ve got your back.
Here’s HuffPost UK’s bluffer’s guide to all the action in parliament this Valentine’s Day (*ahem*).
So, What Were MPs Actually Voting On?
The vote was actually supposed to be a pretty low-key and uncontroversial affair. (But, c’mon, this is Theresa May we’re talking about.)
At the end of last month, MPs voted in favour of two things.
One was a government-backed amendment put forward by Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady (catchily named the ‘Brady amendment’) which called for the controversial Irish backstop to be replaced by “alternative arrangements”.
The second was the ‘Spelman amendment’ (yup, you guessed it – tabled by Tory MP Caroline Spelman) which sought to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
In a bid to prove to EU leaders that the PM had support in the UK for her attempts to renegotiate the backstop (something the European Union is *not* keen on), the government constructed the Valentine’s Day vote as an opportunity for MPs to re-endorse the plans they voted for just two weeks ago.
But, as with everything involved in the terrifying roller coaster ride that is trying to leave the EU, it was not that simple.
The European Research Group (ERG) – a collective of ardent Tory Brexiteers led by Jacob Rees-Mogg – accused May of trying to use the vote to re-endorse the Spelman amendment, thereby helping to take a no-deal Brexit off the table (something they are very much against).
And, with that, the fragile Conservative truce pieced together over recent weeks was smashed.