I just straight cut and pasted this and sent it to a Canadian I know who wanted to know what was happening last night. Thanks BillyWell...
A very significant vote tonight...
Parliament has voted to take control of the order of debates on Wednesday. This may seem a bit obscure, but it's huge.
Westminster has been more or less running on the same rules and conventions since 1604 (a whole lot of rules was written down in something called Erskine May - which John Bercow referred to when he ruled out a third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement).
Technically Britain has a Parliamentary democracy. However, the government, or executive, has always controlled the order of debates and the overall focus of the parliament. This is a convention, not a rule... because the assumption is that the government comes from the majority of MPs.
However... after the 2017 General Election May has had a minority government. She has a "confidence and supply" deal with the DUP - so the DUP aren't actually in government (hence there are no DUP ministers). The Tories have been setting out the order of debates etc. (this is what the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom is responsible for). MPs often propose amendments, which the government sometimes incorporate in to the running order of debates and votes, but the government always controls what gets talked about and legislated for.
Tonight's vote turns this convention on it's head. Instead of the Leader of the House setting out the agenda for Wednesday, it's going to be done by all the MPs. They're doing this so they can vote on a series of alternative solutions to Brexit (e.g. Norway+, Customs Union 2.0, Revoke Article 50, 2nd Referendum etc.). These are called Indicative Votes (a series of votes to indicate what alternative the parliament wants). However... the MPs may add in a vote to say that they should be charge of the running order on Thursday... and then following week etc.
We're in proper uncharted territory.
I believe "No Deal" is not going to happen. The ERG nutters are going to weigh in behind Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement, leaving the DUP and some other headcases out on their own.
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