In a victory that will provide a major boost to Boris Johnson and other Tory candidates determined to take the UK out of the European Union by October 31, a motion seeking to seize control of the Parliamentary agenda was defeated by 309 votes to 298.
The Labour motion had been backed by Tory Remainer Sir Oliver Letwin, who was previously behind a similar backbench bill forced through the Commons earlier this year.
He was joined by nine other Tories rebels who backed the motion while eight Labour MPs voted against Mr Corbyn’s wishes meaning the Government avoided another bruising defeat which would have constrained the next prime minister before they had even taken office.
The result of the vote was greeted with cheers from the Tory benches but a sneering Mr Corbyn responded by shouting “you won’t be cheering in September”.
The vote came after Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson warned MPs would “reap the whirlwind” if they tried to thwart Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The opposition said the defeat was disappointing but believed there was a majority in the Commons against a no-deal and it remained “determined to win this fight”.
“There will be other procedural mechanisms we can use,” shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said. “We are already looking at what those other opportunities will be.”
No 10 said giving MPs a “blank cheque” to dictate Brexit policy would have set a troubling precedent.
Tory rebels included Kenneth Clarke, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve and recent leadership dropout Sam Gyimah.
Brexiteer Tory MP Andrew Bridgen last night said the 10 Tory rebels who backed the Labour motion should be suspended from the party immediately and banned from voting in today’s (Thurs) first party leadership ballot.
“These MPs were conspiring with Labour to stop Brexit,” he said. “They should have the party whip withdrawn and not be allowed to vote tomorrow.”
Britain was originally supposed to leave the EU on 29 March.
But the EU decided on a seven-month extension after MPs rejected the terms of withdrawal on three occasions.
Opponents of a no-deal exit are concerned that Theresa May’s successor as prime minister could seek to take the UK out of the EU without parliamentary approval for such an outcome.
Mr Johnson and several of his rivals have said the UK must leave the EU by the revised date, whether a deal is passed or not.
Tuesday’s motion, supported by the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, as well as some Conservatives, would not, by itself, have ruled out a no deal.
However, its supporters hoped to start a process on 25 June which could culminate with Parliament blocking the UK leaving without an agreement – in effect, tying the next prime minister’s hands.
Backing the motion, Conservative ex-minister Sir Oliver Letwin said the case for ensuring Parliament had a “decisive vote” on the next PM’s Brexit plan ahead of the 31 October deadline transcended party politics.
Given that leaving without a deal remains the default legal position, he said it was “perfectly possible” for the next PM to usher in a no-deal exit by “simply doing nothing” at all.
With Parliament not due to sit for most of August or September, due to the six-week summer holidays and four-week party conference season, he said time was limited and it was critical MPs acted now.
“Although it isn’t a fast-burning fuse, it is a bomb the fuse of which is already burning. If we don’t put the fuse out now, we won’t be able to disassemble the bomb in September or October.”
But veteran eurosceptic, Conservative Sir Bill Cash said it was a “phantom motion” which paved the way for “government by Parliament”.
“It just simply opens the door for any bill of any kind to take precedence over government business,” he told by MPs.
“It is inconceivable as a matter of constitutional convention.”
It was not the first time that MPs have attempted to seize control of the Commons order paper in order to shift government policy on Brexit.
MPs voted in March to oblige Mrs May to seek a Brexit delay from the EU.
But efforts by Sir Oliver and others to come up with an alternative Brexit plan failed in April after MPs rejected all the options in a series of indicative votes.
Published at Wed, 12 Jun 2019 21:06:00 +0000