U.K. – Parliament Approves Law to Stop Boris Johnson Taking U.K. out of E.U. With ‘No Deal’
The last 24 hours in the UK political spectrum has been tumultuous, to say the least, with the single subject of Brexit being the sole focus of attention.
In this fast-moving and complex situation, it’s almost impossible to keep up with events, so here’s a summary;
The last Porter Medium article on this subject ( 2 September) featured the fact that a coalition of MP’s (Members of Parliament) were drafting a Bill of legislation to take control of the parliamentary agenda in order to prevent Prime Minister Johnson taking the UK out of the European Union on the 31 October this year, an extension already granted by the EU following former Prime Minister Theresa May’s inability to get her negotiated deal approved by Parliament on 3 separate votes.
Despite Downing Street’s threat to expel any Conservative Party rebels who voted with the proposed Bill, 21 of them were not deterred and did so yesterday, the government losing the vote by 29.
Downing Street followed through on its promise and all 21 have now had the party whip withdrawn & expelled, barred from standing at the next General Election.
The more prominent figures included in the ‘Rebel 21’ include Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill along with the (until recently) Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.
Before this, and only moments after the Prime Minister was addressing the House of Commons, Conservative MP Dr. Philip Lee defected to the Liberal-Democrat Party and strode from the government side across to the other side of the House to cheers and loud baying from members.
This defection effectively left the PM with no working majority in the House.
The proposed legislation was approved by the House of Commons thereafter following two votes with amendments and is now with the House of Lords, who are debating relatively minor amendments to the Bill and are expected to send it back to the Commons by 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday 6th September) in order that it can be put before the Queen and attain Royal Assent, making it law.
In a press conference this evening, surrounded by police officers, which he has pledged to increase by 20,000, the Prime Minister said he’d “…sooner be dead in a ditch” than go back to the EU to request a further extension to Brexit.
WHAT DOES THE BILL SAY?
In a nutshell, it will force Boris Johnson to either get approval from Parliament for a negotiated deal to leave the EU by 19 October.
If he doesn’t succeed in that, the Bill says he’ll have to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit date of 31 October, taking it from 31 October to 31 January 2020.
Should all 28 EU countries agree to an extension (crucially, including the UK), then the Prime Minister will be forced to accept that date.
Effectively, this buys more time for those MP’s opposed to the UK leaving the EU without a deal to force the PM to negotiate deal acceptable to them.
Following yesterday’s events, Mr. Johnson’s government tabled a motion to call an early General Election, which was also defeated as a result of the opposition Labour Party whips ordering its members to abstain.
The proposed General Election was scheduled to take place when Parliament returns from its proroguing (suspension) on the 14 October.
The Prime Minister met with the Queen last month to request Parliament be suspended, which was granted. That suspension is due starting next week for a period of 5 weeks.
This afternoon, it was announced by the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees- Mogg that the government would table a further motion on Monday 9th September for debate and vote on an early General Election.
Opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has long been requesting a General Election and stated in the House only yesterday that his position was the government should pass the Bill before calling for one.
The widely-held belief is that Prime Minister Johnson is pushing for a General Election knowing that the Bill will become law before the suspension of Parliament next week, effectively calling Corbyn’s bluff.
US Vice-President Mike Pence today visited Downing Street for talks with Boris Johnson and said in a joint media conference in 10 Downing Street a short time ago “ I am grateful for your hospitality. I spoke with President Trump this morning, your friend, and he asked me to send you his very best greetings and assure you that the United States supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union….the United States is ready, willing and able to immediately negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK”
Israel’s Prime Minister Nethanyahu also visited 10 Downing Street and was present in the building at the same time as Vice President Pence, though it has not yet been reported whether either the two or indeed all three met.
Developments on Brexit will be reported by Porter Medium.