Brexit to be delayed AGAIN – MPs block Boris’s plan with plot to thwart October 31 exit
The Prime Minister confirmed earlier today he will pull his Brexit deal and call for an early general election if MPs did not vote for his timetable. He said he would “in no way allow months more of this”, before calling on MPs to work “night and day” to scrutinise his plans and avoid a no deal departure. Mr Johnson said: “If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen, and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the Government continue with this.
“And with great regret I must say that the Bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”
Mr Johnson also warned failure to back his plans would be “closing the path to leaving with a deal on October 31 and opening the path to a no deal in nine days time”.
Two crucial votes took place this evening to determine whether the Prime Minister will be able to live up to his “do or die” commitment to take the UK out of the EU by the October 31 deadline.
MPs cast their initial vote on the his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) before being asked to back his timetable to speed up the legislation through Parliament.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake branded Mr Johnson’s threat to pull the Bill as “childish blackmail”.
He said earlier: “MPs shouldn’t be bullied into voting in favour of this ridiculously short timetable.”
Mr Johnson also warned failure to back his plans would be “closing the path to leaving with a deal on October 31 and opening the path to a no-deal in nine days time”.
He told MPs before the vote: “Doing anything else would, I am afraid, mean this House abdicating its responsibilities and handing over to the EU Council what happens next.”
A programme motion is thought to have only been defeated once before.
This was on a House of Lords reform in 2012 and resulted in the Bill being scrapped.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had warned he would vote against both aspects and accused the Prime Minister of “trying to blindside” Parliament with a “disgraceful attempt to dodge accountability, scrutiny, and any kind of proper debate”.
Mr Johnson was given a brief glimmer of hope when Oliver Letwin said he was “seriously worried” the Bill would be pulled if the timetable was voted down.
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He said: “Surely best for all of us who regard this deal as the least of the evils to vote for the programme motion, whatever we really think of it.”
Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk said a requested extension to Article 50 would be treated with “all seriousness” as he consults with EU leaders who could block the move.
He said: “It is obvious that the result of these consultations will very much depend on what the British Parliament decides, or doesn’t decide.
“We should be ready for every scenario. But one thing must be clear: as I said to Prime Minister Johnson on Saturday, a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision.”
The new Brexit deal would have needed to win backing from the European Parliament.
The bloc’s Brexit co-ordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said problems affecting EU nationals in the UK must first be solved to prevent “another Windrush scandal”.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker added it has “pained” him to spend so much time dealing with Brexit, which he described as “a waste of time and a waste of energy”.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier also told the European Parliament that “this was the only possible agreement”.
Now that the motion has not been passed, Mr Johnson will be forced to accept another lengthy delay to Britain’s departure.
The first vote on Tuesday was on the Bill’s “in principle” second reading.
If it has passed under the proposed timetable the Bill would then have moved to the committee stage on Wednesday, when MPs will have the opportunity to put down amendments.
Labour-backed amendments were expected to include attempts to keep the UK more closely aligned with the EU through a customs union and to hold a second referendum, although both are opposed by the Government.
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