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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019
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ON THE AGENDA today: 

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke for just over an hour today in Dublin, after the two addressed the media at Government Buildings
  • Johnson said his message to Varadkar was that he wants a deal; Varadkar said that if direct rule is imposed in Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he would oppose it.
  • At his party’s think-in in Co Wexford, Micheál Martin said “the national interest must come first” and has said a general election might not be held until the spring
  • This evening, Johnson is expected to try again to force a 15 October general election – but the move, once again, is likely to be blocked by the opposition 
  • The bill aimed at averting a no-deal exit on 31 October is due to receive royal assent (become law) 
  • Parliament will be prorogued (suspended) either this evening or tomorrow, the UK government confirmed. with proceedings cancelled until mid-October
  • John Bercow, the iconic Commons Speaker, has announced he is stepping down

Stay with us for updates.

Boris Johnson is due at Government Buildings shortly. If that’s near your usual route to work you might want to bear in mind that Merrion Square West and South are closed to traffic this morning.

Diversions are in place and traffic is slow around the area as a result. 

 Our reporter Grainne Ní Aodha writes from Government Buildings:

When Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets with PM Boris Johnson this morning, he’s expected to discuss the possibility of a Northern Ireland-only backstop.

This was, of course, the original structure envisaged for the backstop, but was ruled out by Theresa May as it wasn’t accepted by the DUP, who were propping up her Tory government in Westminster.

Instead, a UK-wide backstop was inserted into the Withdrawal Agreement – a deal which was later rejected three times in the House of Commons.

Now, with Johnson’s majority in the minus numbers and the DUP’s leverage gone, Varadkar is expected to suggest returning to the original backstop idea to try to get a deal through by the 31 October and avoid a no deal.

When this Dublin visit was first reported in August, it was amidst requests from Johnson and his Cabinet for Ireland and the EU to concede on the backstop.

As a result, people mused that Varadkar may give in to some of his demands… that seems much less likely now.

Johnson won’t be in Dublin for long – after his meeting with Varadkar at 9am and a joint statement to the press, he’s to fly back to Westminster where a second vote will be held on whether to call a general election on 15 October.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has denied he’s planning to resign, following speculation at the weekend he was about to follow Amber Rudd out the door. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said an all-Ireland agri-food trade deal, as suggested by Boris Johnson, “only covers a portion of the trade between NI and Ireland and would not be a solution that would deal with all the other issues”. 

Donohoe said he would favour a Brexit extension to “create space to hopefully conclude where we are” and avoid no-deal problems, but that the EU did not want further extensions if it meant “endless continuation” of the current stalemate. 

The Taoiseach has arrived at Government Buildings and Boris Johnson is due shortly. 

Daragh Brophy signing off for the moment, handing over to Stephen McDermott who will be liveblogging throughout the Leo-Boris meeting and press conference. 

We’re still awaiting movement at Government Buildings. 

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage has been out this morning talking general election strategy:  

Thanks Daragh. RTÉ has reported that Boris Johnson’s plane has just touched down at Baldonnel Airport. Try to contain your excitement everyone.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has also told the broadcaster that a Northern Ireland-specific solution would facilitate an agreement in the best interests of the region’s economy, but that the concerns of unionists would have to be addressed.

Said Martin:

I think Northern Ireland would have much to gain, and I think it could give everybody breathing space. The remaining issue that would still be problematic would be the nature of a full trading agreement between the UK and Europe.

He also believes that Ireland is not ready for a no-deal Brexit, despite what the government says, and said that avoiding such a scenario should be prioritised.

Gráinne Ní Aodha has more on those lecterns, which seem to be the only things moving at the moment.

She says the reason they’ve been pushed aside is so that Varadkar and Johnson can briefly chat inside Government Buildings when the latter arrives, before the pair reappear outside for a joint statement before their meeting.

 Thanks Gráinne.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin was critical of the UK Prime Minister ahead of today’s visit.

Speaking on Morning Ireland earlier, Howlin questioned Johnson’s desire to protect trade and peace on the island of Ireland.

He said:

Brexit is bad and there is no making it good… I think that Boris Johnson’s approach to [the Good Friday Agreement] from the very beginning has never been one of principle.

Not exactly céad míle fáilte then.

Now for the joint statement.

Varadkar welcomes Johnson to Dublin and says that the two have much to discuss, adding that Ireland respects the democratic decision of the UK to leave the European Union.

However, he warns that Brexit will continue after Brexit day, whenever that is, saying that it is ambitious to strike free trade deals with Europe and the US within three years.

“We want to be your friend and your ally, and the manner in which you leave the European Union will ensure whether that’s possible,” Varadkar says.

He says there will be no replacement of a legal guarantee with a promise, and that Irish citizens on both sides of the border should be protected, a priority for the Irish government.

“We must protect peace and the burgeoning all-Ireland economy… we are open to alternatives [to the backstop], but they must be realistic and legally binding, and we haven’t seen those to date” Varadkar warns.

Johnson thanks Varadkar for his warm welcome, despite the cold weather.

He recalls first meeting the Taoiseach when they jointly officiated the London St Patrick’s Day parade a number of years ago, and celebrates British-Irish relations.

“But as you rightly say, before November there are two political tasks that we have to do. We must return the Government to Stormont in Northern Ireland,” Johnson says,

“And we must get Brexit done, because the UK must come out by 31 October, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done in the UK to our democratic system.”

Johnson accepts that Brexit is not Ireland’s problem, but aims to resolve issues about the movement of food, livestock and people at the border, to uphold the Good Friday Agreement, and to protect the integrity of Ireland single market.

He pledges again never to institute checks at the border and claims he has “unshakable” faith that the Good Friday Agreement can be upheld.

“I have one message that I want to land with you today, Leo, and that is that I want to find a deal,” Johnson adds.

“I want to get a deal. like you, I’ve looked carefully at no deal and assessed its consequences, both for your country and yours, and yes we could do it.

“But be in no doubt that that outcome would be a failure of state-craft for which we would all be responsible…

“I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement.”

He finishes by saying that all issues may not be resolved today, but hopes that a deal will be reached by 18 October.

Asked whether he has been to the border since becoming foreign secretary, Johnson says he has seen the border and understands the complexities of the region.

“The landing zone is clear to everybody,” Johnson says. “We need to find a way to ensure the UK isn’t locked in the backstop arrangement…while giving Ireland the assurances it needs.”

He floats the idea of an all-island phytosanitary arrangement for agriculture, but gives no further details of a compromise on his Brexit plan.

Johnson is once again asked whether he’s crossed the open border, and again avoids the question.

“We must ensure that there is an open border… but we must also simultaneously allow the UK’s democratic decision to be honoured,” he says.

He avoids another question on whether he will be compromised in the House of Commons now that he has lost his parliamentary majority.

Asked whether the UK had any concrete alternatives to the current withdrawal agreement, Johnson tells reporters:

There are an abundance of proposals that we have… but I don’t think it’s entirely reasonable to share them with you today.

Varadkar adds that if there is no alternative arrangements, “no backstop is no deal”.

That’s the end of that, and the two leaders return to the dry interior of Government Buildings to get down to talks.

There’s a bit of a lull in proceedings at the moment, so here’s an alternative arrangement to get excited about: Órla Ryan will take control of live blogging duties for the next while.

We can expect some kind of statement from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin within the next hour or so, but Órla will keep you entertained and informed (in that order) until that happens.

Thanks Stephen.

For those interested, here is the full text of Varadkar’s speech from his joint press conference with Johnson this morning.

As well as speaking about the potential impact of Brexit on the island or Ireland, the Taoiseach referenced Winston Churchill, one of Johnson’s political heroes, towards the end of his remarks. You can read his speech in full below:

“Members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister, I am very pleased to welcome you to Ireland and I look forward to our conversation this morning.

We have much to discuss.

First of all, allow me to say that we respect the democratic and sovereign decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

We meet this morning at a point where the stated intention of the British Government is to leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal.

However, the story of Brexit will not end if the United Kingdom leaves on 31st October or even January 31st – there is no such thing as a clean break. No such thing as just getting it done. Rather, we just enter a new phase.

If there is no deal I believe that’s possible, it will cause severe disruption for British and Irish people alike. We will have to get back to the negotiating table. When we do, the first and only items on the agenda will be citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border. All the issues we had resolved in the Withdrawal Agreement we made with your predecessor. An Agreement made in good faith by 28 governments.

If there is a deal, and I think that is possible, we will enter talks on a Future Relationship Agreement between the EU and UK. It’s going to be tough dealing with issues ranging from tariffs, to fishing rights, product standards and state aid. It will then have to be ratified by 31 parliaments.

Prime Minister, negotiating FTAs with the EU and US and securing their ratification in less than three years is going to be a Herculean task for you. We want to be your friend and ally, your Athena, in doing so.

The manner in which you leave the EU will determine if that’s possible.

I am ready to listen to constructive ways to achieve our agreed goals and resolve the current impasse.

But what we cannot do, and will not do, is replace a legal guarantee with a promise.

Our businesses need long-term certainty.

And the people of this island, North and South, need to know that their livelihoods, their security and their sense of identity will not be put at risk as a consequence of a hard Brexit.

The stakes are high.

Avoiding the return of a hard border on this island and protecting our place in the single market are the Irish Government’s priorities in all circumstances.

We must protect peace on the island and the burgeoning success of the all-island economy. This is why the backstop continues to be a critical component of the Withdrawal Agreement, unless and until an alternative is found.

Yes, we are open to alternatives. But they must be realistic ones, legally binding and workable.

We have received no such proposals to date.

Prime Minister we have spoken twice by phone already. I know we have a shared desire to see the Northern Ireland institutions restored. The Tánaiste and Secretary of State are already working closely together on that. The Good Friday Agreement is proof that old foes can come together to deal with the most intractable of problems. As co-guarantors of the Agreement, I look forward to exploring with you, how working with the Northern Ireland parties, we can restore power-sharing and devolution.

Today I am confident about finding common ground. I am also determined to defend the all island economy, peace, and all that we value.

Prime Minister, I know that you are an admirer of the great Winston Churchill, and you have written elegantly about his career.

In the middle of the Second World War, Winston Churchill and the Army Chief of Staff, Lord Alanbrooke, made a long and perilous journey back from Washington by plane.

They reached the coast of Ireland shortly after 4 am.

Alanbrooke’s description of their first sight of Ireland is unexpectedly poetic from a normally reserved military man:

‘Beautiful moon shining on a sea of clouds. Then out of the darkness dark patches loomed up out on the horizon, which turned out to be the north coast of Mayo. We soon struck the coast, only just visible in the moonlight. PM was as thrilled as I was.’

I fear the vista when you flew in this morning was not quite as spectacular or as thrilling. But you come nonetheless at a crucial point in the history of the relationship between our two countries.

We may sometimes differ, but we are bonded by our shared past and shared kinship. And we also have a shared dream for the future: one of peace, freedom, and
prosperity.

I look forward to our discussions this morning and I now invite you to make some remarks.”

Meanwhile, here is the full text of Johnson’s speech from the press conference.

The British Prime Minister stated that his and Varadkar’s predecessors “put aside differences” and “found compromises … in circumstances far tougher than now”.

“Thank you Leo and it is wonderful to be here. And I thank you very much for the warm welcome you’ve given us. You and I first met a few years ago when you and I jointly officiated at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Trafalgar square in London. It was a pretty joyous occasion. And of course we celebrated the incalculable contribution of the Irish community to London.

And there in the vast crowds was of course the living human embodiment of one of the densest and most intricate and most vital relationships in the world between any two countries.

And together Leo today we both recognise that our peoples are the beneficiaries of the efforts of our predecessors – politicians and others – who put aside differences, who found compromises, who took our countries forwards together in circumstances far tougher than now. And the results for both UK and Ireland are immense.

Not just a peaceful and open border but an economic partnership by which we eat I think 50% of all the cheese and beef produced in Ireland, and we are talking a lot. And the very captain of the World Cup-winning English cricket team was born in this city.

And I think that our job now is to take that relationship forward and to build on it at the UK-Ireland summit in November, I look forward to that, and in all the ways in which the UK and Ireland work together around the world with shared values and shared interests.

As you rightly say Taoiseach, before November there are two political tasks that we simply have to do. We must restore the government of Northern Ireland at Stormont, and I promise to work with you on our shared objective. And we must get Brexit done because the UK must come out on October 31, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done to confidence in our democracy in the UK.

And I know that this problem of Brexit was not, to be perfectly frank, a conundrum that Ireland ever wished for and I think there are three basic questions we need now to answer for the sake of our collective peace of mind.

Can we ensure that we continue to have unchecked movement at the border of goods and people and indeed cattle? I think the answer is yes – and as someone who went to the border several times before the Good Friday agreement, and shuddered to see watchtowers on UK soil, I can say now that the UK will never ever institute checks at the border, and I hope our friends in the EU would say the same.

Can we uphold the Belfast Good Friday agreement in all its particulars? Again I say the answer is yes, and our commitment to the peace process is unshakeable. Can we protect the economic unity of the island of Ireland and the gains that Ireland has won through its membership of the EU single market? And again I think the answer is yes – and I think we can achieve all these things while allowing the UK to withdraw whole and entire from the EU.

And of course I acknowledge the complexities involved. And the symbolism and the sensitivities evoked by the very concept of a border. But strip away the politics and at the core of each problem you find practical issues that can be resolved. With sufficient energy and a spirit of compromise, and indeed even the current treaty must logically envisage that the problems can be solved, or the present protocol would never have been called a backstop.

So if I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo, it is that I want to find a deal. I want to get a deal. Like you, I’ve looked carefully at no deal. I have assessed its consequences, both for our country and yours. And, yes, of course, we could do it, the UK could certainly get through it. But be in no doubt that it would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible and so, for the sake of business, and farmers, and for millions of ordinary people who are now counting on us to use our imagination and creativity to get this done, I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement.

Our governments have spent three years masticating this problem. I think it is time to honour the achievements of our predecessors who tackled far worse problems by cracking this one ourselves. I won’t say that we can do it all today, but I believe there is a deal to be done by October 18. Let’s do it together.”

Johnson has a busy day ahead and is expected to experience another defeat in the House of Commons when he returns to London later, with opposition MPs saying they (once again) won’t vote in favour of holding a general election:

Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, wasn’t a fan of Johnson’s comments this morning:

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has addressed the media at his party’s think-in in Gorey, Co Wexford.

On Brexit, Martin said: “The national interest comes first.”

He stated that, notwithstanding Brexit, a lot of damage has been done to the Good Friday Agreement.

“One hopeful situation is that Boris Johnson is in a tight corner and he wants to leave at the end of October,” Martin told reporters.

“I don’t think the government were telling the truth last year when they said there would definitely be no checks (along the border) after Brexit.”

Martin added that he won’t pull the plug on the government and start an election campaign.

Referencing comments made by Johnson last week – where he said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than seek another Brexit extension from the EU – Martin said he “doesn’t want to die in a ditch” when asked if he’d rather that or extend the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the government.

Varadkar and Johnson released a joint statement after their meeting.

It reads:

“The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister had a positive and constructive meeting in Government Buildings this morning. This was an essential and timely opportunity for the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister to establish a relationship and a better understanding of each other’s positions.

They spoke privately over breakfast for more than half an hour before joining their delegations for another half hour meeting.

While they agreed that the discussions are at an early stage, common ground was established in some areas although significant gaps remain.

Ireland and the UK are committed to securing an agreement between the European Union and the UK, and recognise that negotiations take place through the Brussels Task Force.

They also shared their commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland.

They look forward to meeting each other again in the near future.”

If you’re wondering why Varadkar earlier told Johnson that Ireland could be the UK’s ‘Athena’ in relation to Brexit, we’ve got you covered.

download (1) A statue of Athena in Athens. Source: Yiannis Alexopoulos/PA Images

Athena was a warrior goddess who served as Odysseus’s divine counselor; she is often used as a symbol of democracy.

Here’s a look at what the Taoiseach could have been implying when talking about the Greek goddess.

The British Parliament is set to be prorogued, or suspended, tonight.

Here is what the rather regal proroguing ceremony entails (via the Houses of Parliament):

It will begin with an announcement, on behalf of the Queen, read in the House of Lords by the Leader of the House.

The announcement will state: “My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.”

A Royal Commission consisting of five Peers, all Privy Councillors, appointed by the Queen will enter the Chamber, and instruct Black Rod ( a parliamentary official) to summon the House of Commons, which he will do. 

When the Commons arrive, the Royal Commission and representatives of the Commons, including the Speaker, the Clerk and the Serjeant at Arms, will ceremonially greet each other: the Lords doff their hats and the Members and officials of the Commons bow in return.

The official command of the Queen appointing her Royal Commission will be read by the Reading Clerk from a piece of parchment. The Clerk of the Crown will then announce from the Opposition side of the table the name of each Act that is to be passed.

‘The Queen wishes it’ 

As each Act is announced, the Clerk of the Parliament will face MPs, declaring ‘La Reyne le veult’ – Norman French for ‘The Queen wishes it.’ This ceremony signifies Royal Assent for each bill. After all bills have passed Royal Assent, the Leader of the House will read a speech from the Queen reviewing the past year.

Like the Queen’s Speech at State Opening, this is written by the British Government and reviews the legislation and achievements of the government over the past year.

Parliament is then officially prorogued. After prorogation, and especially on the dissolution of Parliament before a general election, members shake the hand of the Speaker on leaving the Chamber.

Following prorogation, all motions, including early day motions and questions which have not been answered, will not progress any further.

A bill which has not obtained royal assent (been made into law) by the end of the session in which it was introduced usually ‘dies’ and if the government or member sponsoring the bill would like to carry on with the bill it has to be reintroduced in the next session unless a carry-over motion has been passed.

In recent decades, when parliament has met all the year round, the prorogation of one session has usually been followed by the opening of a new session of parliament a few days later.

And now, for another ceremony – the passing over of liveblogging duties.

Thanks for reading and please stay with us for Brexit updates throughout the day.

I shall leave you in the very capable hands of my colleague Gráinne Ní Aodha.

Hello everyone. Gráinne here back at my desk after a busy start to another hectic Brexit week. Since parliament looks to be prorogued later today or tomorrow, I’ve thrown an ear into a UK committee before they’re suspended as part of prorogation. 

Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service is being asked about Dominic Cummings’ role in firing a senior aide of Sadiq Khan, the UK Chancellor.

He said that although he can’t comment on individual cases, the facts of the case are “clear” and there might be further action taken.

It had been alleged that the proper HR protocol hadn’t been followed in dismissing Sonia Khan, a seasoned government aide, from her role.

Senior advisers are “like hybrids”, Sedwill says, between civil servants and private advisers: “Any special adviser serves at the discretion of the Minister.”

John Manzoni, Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office and Chief Executive of the Civil Service, is also before that same UK committee mentioned earlier, and is asked: is there a point of no return with no-deal preparations. Is there a point where the civil service says “we cannot do this?”

The UK has recently contracted for freight capacity, he says, and a number of similar decisions which includes medicines have been made to prepare for a no-deal preparations.

Manzoni says that a no-deal Brexit prep campaign has ramped up slowly, and the new website it published four days ago can accept 20,000 requests a second, and that it’s expecting about 14 million requests a week.

Sedwill is asked whether a strong parliament is a help or hindrance to the executive. 

Of course a strong parliament is part of our democracy. We’re held accountable and parliament makes decisions.

A number of things have happened

We’ve introduced 25 “pop-up checking points” all along the country, we’re working towards 100, says Manzoni.

If Dover does block up, there will be other areas where trucks can be checked, he adds.

The UK’s Revenue has hired 3,000 extra people, and they aim to get somewhere between 5-6,000 in the immediate aftermath of Brexit day on 1 November.

This questioning of Sedwill and Manzoni is reminding me of… 

At his party’s think-in in Co Wexford, Micheál Martin said that he was “putting the national interest first” – indicating that he won’t seek to collapse the confidence and supply arrangement that Fianna Fáil has with Fine Gael which is keeping the latter in government. 

Martin added that the country will most likely go to the polls in the early spring next year.

ITV’s political correspondent Paul Brand is reporting that MPs have requested an emergency debate to get their hands on all government documents relating to prorogation and a no deal scenario since 23 July. 

To be clear, we don’t actually know what Bercow is going to say shortly. So speculation is mounting over what he might have to say or whether he has some niche constitutional mechanism up his sleeve designed to frustrate Boris Johnson. 

Breaking: John Bercow – one of the most distinctive characters in the Brexit saga – will be leaving the Speaker’s chair. When, we don’t know. If MPs vote this evening for a general election, he’ll step down tonight. If not, he’s just announced he will resign the role on 31 October. 

prime-ministers-questions Source: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

Calling himself the “backbenchers’ backstop”, Bercow said he would be honouring a promise he made to his family in 2017 by stepping down as Speaker and MP. 

It does look like Bercow will be gone by 31 October, because no one expects British MPs to vote for an election this evening. 

This means that we’ll have another Speaker in the House of Commons very shortly – expect plenty of rumours and gossip in the coming weeks of who might want to throw their hat in the ring to martial parliament through the next period of Brexit. 

Bercow has never been a quiet or subdued Commons Speaker. From accusations of constitutional chicanery during the Brexit process to his dogged attempts to empower parliamentarians, Bercow has been one of the most recognisable faces – and voices – in the House of Commons in recent years.

Today, there was applause from all sides of the House of Commons. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised his “superb” work and credited him with changing the nature of the role. 

“I like the idea of a powerful parliament holding the executive to account,” he said.

Government minister Michael Gove offered similar thanks, praising his attempts to ensure that “the executive answers for its actions”. 

It’s also worth noting that Bercow has faced multiple bullying allegations, which he denies. So while the Speaker offered plenty of meme-able moments, he has never been a universally loved figure since he was appointed in 2009. 

If you want more details on his unexpected resignation, check out Michelle Hennessy’s piece here. For the record, MPs are still heaping praise on Bercow in the House of Commons – it’s certainly a sentimental place sometimes. 

If you’ve got a hankering for some statistics on parliamentary democracy in practice, this tweet from the Guardian’s Diplomatic Editor Patrick Wintour is worth a look. 

Part of the reason a lot of backbenchers are heaping praise on Bercow is that he genuinely cared about giving parliamentarians a chance to grill the government. 

Because it’s relatively quiet, it’s worth looking over what Bercow actually said this afternoon – not least because he isn’t going away (we presume) until 31 October and could yet play a major role in Brexit. 

This is a wonderful place, filled overwhelmingly by people who are motivated by their notion of the national interest, by their perception of the public good and by their duty not as delegates but as representatives to do what they believe is right for our country.

Can we count this as the second reference to an acclaimed Irish parliamentarian in the House of Commons in the last two weeks. It might be a less explicit reference than Jacob Rees Mogg’s call out of Charles Stewart Parnell last week, but Bercow’s use of ‘delegate’ versus ‘representatives’ is straight out of the Edmund Burke playbook – the MP born in Dublin in 1729. 

MPs have finally moved on from thanking John Bercow. Not everyone seems to agree it was a good use of time for a parliament facing suspension later today. 

Dominic Grieve is now speaking in a debate asking the government to publish all documents related to the Operation Yellowhammer and proroguing parliament. 

After that debate, Jeremy Corbyn has asked for a debate on the “rule of law and ministers obligation to comply with the law”. 

Expect some fiery speeches criticising Boris Johnson and the government over the next few hours, before we move onto the government motion calling for an early election. 

We all know that the British parliament loves some arcane procedure, so what happens during a prorogation ceremony?

We’ve put together a short guide to what you can expect on the more ceremonial side of tonight’s proceedings. 

You can give it a read here

It’s scarcely hours since Bercow announced his intention to quit the role of Speaker and we already have an MP throwing their hat in the ring to replace him. 

In fairness, Labour MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the Deputy Speaker, so he certainly has the experience (if not perhaps the vocal chords) to succeed Bercow. 

In case you think you’re getting a sense of déjà vu with all this talk of a vote for an early general election, you’re not.

Only last week, MPs rejected a government motion calling for an early election. And yet here we are again.

The result expected for tonight? You guessed it – MPs don’t seem likely to back Boris Johnson’s motion. 

The Dominic Grieve motion is still being debated. Joanna Cherry, the Scottish National Party MP who is currently engaged in a legal bid to block the prorogation of parliament, is now speaking.

The dogs in the street know that the reason this Prime Minister is proroguing parliament is to avoid scrutiny as he hurtles towards 31 October.

It was her case, backed by 75 parliamentarians, that saw a selection of redacted documents published that appear to show that Johnson had agreed to prorogation as early as 15 August. 

You can read the latest on the case here - a decision is expected later this week. 

This live blog is going to wrap up now, but stay with us because we’ll be starting a new one shortly as things heat up ahead of tonight’s early election vote. 

We’re on the edge of our seats. 

boris-johnson-visit-to-ireland Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

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