Indicative votes 2.0: Where did support lie?

On Thursday 27 March, the House of Commons voted on eight motions setting out alternatives to the Prime Minister’s deal for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. No motion gained a majority. After rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement for a third time on 28 March, the House voted again on four motions on 1 April. Again, no motion was able to attract the support of a majority of MPs.

This Insight looks at support for the motions and how this changed from Thursday to Monday. 

What were the results?

A set of two stacked bar charts showing votes (Aye, No, No vote recorded) for eight motions on 27th March and four motions on 1 April

The motions put to the vote on Monday were modified versions of the those put to the vote on Thursday. To reflect these changes, the title of Joanna Cherry MP’s motion to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit changed from ‘Revoke to avoid No Deal’ to ‘Parliamentary Supremacy’; the titles of the other motions remained the same.

The new title is used in the charts below, which show changes in the level of support for these motions, by party. The number on the left of each slope indicates the results on 27 March and on the right are the results on 1 April. Slopes are not included where no change in support was recorded. Overall they indicate that there has been some change in support, but not enough to change the outcome.

Slope charts for Aye, No, and No vote recorded for each motion by party on Thursday and Monday

Slope charts for Aye, No, and No vote recorded for each motion by party on Thursday and Monday

Slope charts for Aye, No, and No vote recorded for each motion by party on Thursday and Monday

Slope charts for Aye, No, and No vote recorded for each motion by party on Thursday and Monday

What changed?

Changes in support for these motions could be explained by the qualitative changes introduced by the redrafting of their wording. For example, the motion proposing the UK enter into a customs union with the EU received 265 votes on Thursday and 273 votes on Monday. Most of the initial supporters (259) went on to support the modified motion again, but two of them opposed it and four abstained. Of the 271 MPs who initially opposed the customs union proposal, nine went on to support it on Monday. Similarly, of the 283 MPs who initially opposed the common market proposal, 14 went on to support it on Monday.

There were more MPs who did not vote in favour of any motion on Monday (283) than there were on Thursday (102); there were also more MPs who voted for or against on all motions (388 on Monday compared with 281 on Thursday).

Further reading

The EU agrees to delay Brexit – but for how long? House of Commons Library.

Brexit timeline: events leading to the UK’s exit from the European Union, House of Commons Library.

Elise Uberoi is a researcher at the House of Commons Library, specialising in social and general statistics.

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