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Faculty of Economics

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Aidt, T., Grey, F., Savu, A.

The Three Meaningful Votes: Voting on Brexit in the British House of Commons

CWPE1979

Abstract: Why do politicians rebel and vote against the party line when high stakes bills come to the floor of the legislature? We leverage the three so-called Meaningful Votes that took place in the British House of Commons between January and March 2019 on the Withdrawal Agreement that the Conservative government had reached with the European Union to address this question. The Withdrawal Agreement was decisively defeated three times and a major revolt amongst Conservative backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) was instrumental in this. We find that three factors influenced their rebellion calculus: the MP’s own preference, constituency preferences and career concerns. Somewhat paradoxically, the rebellion within the Conservative Party came from MPs who had supported Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum and from MPs elected in Leave leaning constituencies.

Keywords: BREXIT, roll call votes, rebellions, party discipline, party coherence, House of Commons

JEL Codes: D72

Author links: Toke Aidt  Felix Grey  Alexandru Savu  

PDF: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe1979.pdf