MPs block Boris Johnson's bid for a general election as the Government fails to get the required super-majority: Brexit News for Thursday 5 September

MPs block Boris Johnson's bid for a general election as the Government fails to get the required super-majority: Brexit News for Thursday 5 September
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MPs block Boris Johnson’s bid for a general election as the Government fails to get the required super-majority…

Opposition MPs have blocked Boris Johnson’s bid to call a snap election. The Government failed to gain the required two thirds majority needed for the motion to pass after MPs voted 298 votes to 56. A large number of MPs abstained. It means Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn becomes the first opposition leader to block an election. It come after earlier in the evening MPs backed a Hilary Benn bill to delay Brexit beyond October 31 with a 28 vote majority. The Hillary Benn bill was not without controversy after an amendment, put forward by Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, to put Theresa May’s Brexit deal back to the Commons for another vote was passed seemingly by mistake. No tellers were put up to oppose the amendment so it passed by default. As it stands the bill forces Mr Johnson to seek a three-month extension to Article 50 if he fails to reach a new deal with the EU by October 19. – Telegraph (£)

…with ‘hypocrite’ Jeremy Corbyn rejecting a general election to break the Brexit deadlock

Jeremy Corbyn tonight became the first Opposition leader in history to block a general election as Boris Johnson accused him of being a “chicken”. The Labour leader was branded a hypocrite after he ordered his MPs not to back Mr Johnson’s proposal of going to the polls on Oct 15, despite Mr Corbyn’s non-stop demands for an election ever since he lost in 2017. On another day of high drama in the Commons, the Prime Minister suggested his opposite number was “frit” because he feared a heavy defeat if and when the country had its say. Mr Johnson said: “He has demanded an election for two years by blocking Brexit. He said two days ago he would support an election. Is he now going to say that the public cannot be allowed an election to decide which of us sorts out this mess?” Only 298 MPs voted in favour of an election, 136 short of the two-thirds majority needed to carry the Government motion, after all but three Labour MPs either abstained or voted against it. – Telegraph (£)

MPs back Hilary Benn’s bill to block a no-deal Brexit…

U.K. MPs backed a bill to block a no-deal Brexit Wednesday and prepared to vote on whether to call a general election. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the House of Commons had “scuppered” his negotiations with the EU and it should be up to the country to decide “whether that is right.” But opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, alongside other opposition leaders, refused to back an election until the Brexit delay officially becomes law. Under U.K. law, two-thirds of MPs would need to back a snap election for one to take place. The vote comes the day after Johnson’s government suffered a heavy defeat as MPs backed a plan to seize control of the parliamentary timetable — something usually controlled by the government — in order to enable them to block a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister will now push for a general election in the hope of winning a majority and regaining control of the Brexit process. – Politico

> On BrexitCentral today: MPs back Hilary Benn’s Bill to delay Brexit – How every MP voted

> WATCH: Highlights from the EU Withdrawal Bill debate

…and a deal is struck to ensure it will clear the House of Lords tomorrow after a filibuster is called off at 1.30am

The government has said a bill to stop a no-deal Brexit will complete its passage through the Lords on Friday. The proposed legislation was passed by MPs on Wednesday, inflicting a defeat on Prime Minister Boris Johnson. There were claims pro-Brexit peers could deliberately hold up the bill so it could not get royal assent before Parliament is prorogued next week. But the Conservative chief whip in the Lords announced a breakthrough in the early hours after talks with Labour. The peers sat until 01:30 BST, holding a series of amendment votes that appeared to support predictions a marathon filibuster session – designed to derail the bill – was under way. – BBC News

  • Lords agree to pass anti-no deal Brexit bill after Tories ditch filibuster attempt – PoliticsHome

Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue Parliament lawful, Scottish court rules

A judge at the highest civil court in Scotland has found Boris Johnson’s planned prorogation of Parliament is lawful. Legal action aimed at preventing the UK Government suspending Parliament ahead of the Brexit deadline was considered, following claims the PM wants to limit MPs’ scrutiny and their attempts to stop a no-deal Brexit. Announcing his decision on Wednesday, Lord Doherty said choosing when to prorogue Parliament was for politicians and not the courts – but this will now be appealed against. He said: “In my view the advice given in relation to the prorogation decision is a matter involving high policy and political judgement.” He added: “This is political territory and decision-making, which cannot be measured by legal standards but only by political judgments.’ – ITV News

EU reportedly concludes Boris Johnson has lost control and that more Brexit talks would be pointless…

The EU fears that Boris Johnson has “lost control” and that any new negotiation on the Irish backstop is “pointless” because his government is powerless to push it through the House of Commons. European ambassadors will today hold confidential talks on Brexit and what steps the EU should take next after the prime minister’s heavy defeat and loss of his parliamentary majority yesterday. Diplomatic sources said that the EU is increasingly pessimistic over the point of holding talks with the prime minister on alternatives to the Irish backstop after MPs last night seized control of the Commons agenda. – The Times (£)

…as Michel Barnier pulls out of a Belfast event next week…

The EU’s lead negotiator has cancelled his planned first public speech in the UK since the Brexit vote. Michel Barnier had been due to address an event at the Queen’s University in Belfast on Monday. A spokeswoman for the university confirmed that the event has been cancelled. A copy of a letter from Mr Barnier to the Queen’s University Vice Chancellor, explaining his reasons for pulling out of the event, has been reported by RTE. In the letter, Mr Barnier said he is aware that his first public speech in the UK since the vote to leave the EU “could be used by some to undermine the chances for an orderly Brexit”. “At this particular juncture of the process, the UK is engaged in an intense political debate. In many respects, we have finally arrived at a moment of truth for the country,” he wrote. – ITV News

…while the European Commission maintains the Irish backstop is the only way to protect the Good Friday Agreement

The Irish border backstop remains the “only identified solution” to prevent a hard border in Ireland after a no deal Brexit and the only way to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and uphold international law, the European Commission warned today. The communication to all EU member states and the EU institutions will heap pressure on Boris Johnson, weakened after the loss of his majority in Westminster last night. “The backstop provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement is the only solution identified that safeguards the Good Friday Agreement, ensures compliance with international law obligations and preserves the integrity of the internal [single] market,” the commission said. – Telegraph (£)

Cabinet ministers demand a U-turn on the expulsion of 21 Tory MPs

Senior Cabinet ministers yesterday confronted Boris Johnson to call on him to overturn his expulsion of 21 rebel Conservative MPs as the insurrection against the PM grew. No Deal chief Michael Gove lead the charge from a series of senior figures during a tense meeting of the Cabinet in No10 yesterday. Pleading for Boris to relent on his tough punishment, they insisted he offer the expelled rebels “a way back” so they can rejoin the Parliamentary party. Health Secretary Matt Hancock also questioned the controversial decision during the tense Cabinet meeting, and asked the PM to spell out how the rebels could “find redemption”. – The Sun

Home Secretary Priti Patel says no-deal Brexit wouldn’t end unregulated EU immigration until 2021

Priti Patel tonight conceded unlimited EU immigration will all-but remain in place until 2021 in a No Deal. Despite promising tougher criminal checks on migrants from October 31, the Home Office said EU citizens would be allowed unfettered access to the UK until at least the end of 2020. This would “give businesses certainty” that they will be able to recruit and retain staff after Brexit. The move – snuck out before a knife-edge vote on an Election – came just weeks after the Home Secretary insisted free movement would be scrapped the moment the UK leaves the EU. – The Sun

Daniel Hannan: There will still be an election in the UK, and Brexit will still happen

Life in Britain is pretty great right now. It’s the loveliest time of year: The rankness of high summer has passed, but the hedgerows remain thick and green, flecked with the first hints of autumn color. We are gripped by one of the most dramatic Ashes series ever: our regular cricket clash with Australia. Employment is at record levels. The deficit has finally been eliminated. The governing Conservative Party is 10 points ahead in the opinion polls. I feel I have to lay these things out for overseas audiences, because a casual glance at the headlines might give you the impression that the United Kingdom is in the throes of some terrible crisis. The New York Times and the Washington Post, in particular, now run hilarious articles on an almost daily basis about how dreadful everything suddenly is “because of Brexit.” – Daniel Hanan MEP for the Washington Examiner 

Allister Heath: Ignore the Remainer triumphalism – Boris is still on course for victory

The Tory party is dead; long live the Tory party. The seismic realignment that was supposed to take place in 2016 is finally upon us, and a tougher, rougher, non-deferential conservatism is making its explosive debut. Ruthlessly focused on the public’s priorities, its ideology is complex. In some ways, it will be more pro-capitalist and pro-freedom: especially on tax, motoring and the nanny state. It will be more conservative on law and order, defence and immigration. In yet other areas, such as health and overall public spending, it will back a larger government, as we saw in a Spending Review that increased overall expenditure by 0.5 per cent of GDP over two years. – Allister Heath for the Telegraph (£)

Rod Liddle: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the Conservatives need to make a formal pact

Had you ever even heard of Dr Phillip Lee? I hadn’t. I suspect there are members of his family who have only heard of him vaguely. Phil’s the bloke who destroyed Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority a couple of days ago. Puffed up with his own self-importance, he marched across the House of Commons to join the Liberal Democrats. He had been elected as a Conservative for the seat of Bracknell. But Phil’s a staunch Remainer and cannot abide the views of his own party. Or his constituents, who voted by a majority to leave. Or his local party activists, who are in favour of Brexit. So off he went to join Jo Swimsuit’s tiny band of gibbering hobgoblins. I don’t know how long Phil will last in the Lib Dems. Some of his new party colleagues have already resigned because they can’t stand him. Largely because of his views on gay marriage. – Rod Liddle for The Sun

Madeline Grant: The liberal Left’s pious outrage over Boris and Brexit is playing into the PM’s hands

It’s probably fair to say that Boris Johnson’s first PMQs didn’t go exactly as he and his team had hoped.  Hours after losing his majority, the PM seemed tense and uneasy amid a barrage of heckling from opponents and former colleagues. John Bercow managed to exceed his usual (extraordinarily biased) standards with a nakedly partisan display. Fresh from a summer break spent plotting with Tory rebels from a Turkish sun lounger, the egomaniacal Speaker barely concealed his contempt for the PM, bellowing “Sit down!” like an exasperated supply teacher. Then followed sneering interventions from former colleagues, while even Jeremy Corbyn managed a surprisingly polished performance. The Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who wears a turban, mounted a powerful, scathing critique of the Prime Minister, lambasting him for his notorious “letterboxes” burqa gag and branding his remarks “racist”. His remarks have since dominated news coverage of the debate. – Madeline Grant for the Telegraph (£)

Bobby Friedman: Enough is enough. The Conservatives must put up a candidate against Bercow in Buckingham

Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. And it’s not in the interests of a political biographer to see the downfall of his subject of choice: where would Boswell have been without Johnson (Samuel, not Boris, of course)? It might, therefore, come as something of a surprise that, as John Bercow’s biographer, I’ve reached the conclusion that the Conservatives should run a candidate against him in his Buckingham constituency at the – surely inevitable – general election in the coming months. It’s a view I’ve come to reluctantly, not least because, for much of his Speakership, Bercow was highly effective, bringing some much-needed zest to the role, standing up for backbenchers and enabling effective scrutiny of the government – all with a suitable degree of rhetorical panache. – Bobby Friedman for ConservativeHome

Sherelle Jacobs: The Establishment plot to shut down Brexit has entered its ruthless final phase

A spectre is haunting Brexit and its name is Tony Blair. Not merely the man himself – though, my, how stirringly his anti-Brexit diatribes this week have embodied the desolate passion and antisceptic piety of the arch-Remainer cause. But also the cunning and ruthless Europhile Establishment that the former Labour leader bequeathed to Britain and has declared total war on No 10. Sadly, following tonight’s Government defeat in Parliament, Leave voters must now brace themselves for the most unscrupulous orchestrated attempt in modern British history to undermine a democratic vote. – Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)

John Redwood: A useless Parliament

The absence of a majority for any governing party or parties, and the lack of unity over any positive proposal makes this a useless Parliament. The government’s decision to remove the whip from 21 Conservatives comes after the defections of Heidi Allen, Nick Boles, Anna Soubry, Philip Lee, Sarah Wollaston to Change, the Liberal democrats and Independence. The Conservative party is now down to 289 in the Commons, with 10 DUP, leaving the two parties short of the 318 needed for a majority. A pro EU coalition did have the necessary votes to push through a fundamental constitutional bill effectively overturning the referendum result in just four hours yesterday. They could agree to stop us leaving without a deal ,but were unable to agree what a deal would look like that they could accept and which would be negotiable with the EU. The truth is the EU has negotiated the deal it wants, and the UK Parliament and people have decisively rejected that same deal. – John Redwood’s Diary

Guto Bebb: Why I joined the Tory MPs’ no-deal Brexit revolt

After nine years as the Conservative MP for Aberconwy, I found myself this morning being interviewed as simply the MP for Aberconwy. It’s quite something to find myself no longer a Conservative MP. I suspect, however, that my disappointment pales into insignificance when compared to the impact of this rash and hypocritical decision on individuals such as Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames. When the Father of the House loses the Conservative whip after 50 years of loyal service and the grandson of Winston Churchill is now deemed to be insufficiently Conservative we should pause and reflect. What has happened to the Conservative Party? – Guto Bebb MP for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne backs Brexit as he declares ‘Britain is great – just get on with it’ – The Sun
  • Top Brexit MEP accuses Boris Johnson of being an untrustworthy bully who has ‘lost control’ – Telegraph (£)
  • Tories set to ‘depose Speaker Bercow’ in next election after his furious blast at Michael Gove – The Sun