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WELL, IT’S ALL go with Brexit happenings yet again.

During second his address to the House of Commons as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson confirmed that he would visit Dublin on Monday, and lost his parliamentary majority, as  Philip Lee joined the Liberal Democrats in the middle of Johnson’s speech.

Conservative Party rebels are preparing to join with opposition MPs today and vote for a bill that will try to force British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union if he cannot strike an agreement with Brussels in the next few weeks.

This morning, former chancellor Philip Hammond has said the bill will get enough backing from his group of “incensed” Tory rebels to be formally introduced to Parliament.

Stick with us throughout the afternoon for all your latest Brexit news. 

Good morning! Hayley Halpin here to bring you through developments over in British politics this morning. 

Here’s a quick recap of where we’re at as the day kicks off. 

  • The House of Commons returns today after it’s summer recess. 
  • Later today, opposition MPs will table a bill that will try to force Johnson to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union if he cannot strike an agreement with Brussels in the next few weeks.
  • Conservative Party rebels are preparing to join with the opposition to vote for the bill
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek to dissolve parliament and call a general election for 14 October if the bill is passed.
  • Last night, Johnson said he did not want an election and expressed hope that he could get a new deal with Brussels. But he added that he would stick to the intended Brexit deadline of 31 October.
  • This morning, former chancellor Philip Hammond has said the bill will get enough backing from his group of “incensed” Tory rebels to be formally introduced to Parliament.

As noted below, the House of Commons returns today from its summer recess. 

But what has British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got planned? 

Our report Gráinne Ní Aodha has laid it all out this morning and you can catch up on Johnson’s plans here:

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today show this morning, Philip Hammond said he believes today’s deal will get enough backing from his group of “incensed” Tory rebels. 

Hammond said it was a “very modest bill in its ambitions” to delay Brexit by three months in order to allow Parliament time to examine any withdrawal agreement with Brussels. 

The former chancellor also said that he will “fight” to stand in the next general election. 

“This is my party, I am going to defend my party against people who are at the heart of this government who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party,” he said. 

The latest from Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage

Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening has written a letter to Johnson outlining that she will not stand at the next general election. 

Ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve has confirmed that he will vote alongside Tory MPs in the bill to attempt to stop a no-deal Brexit today. 

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “We intend to move a motion which I hope will enable us to bring through a bill which requires extension beyond 31 October for Article 50.”

When asked by Sky News if he is a Remainer, Grieve said: “Yes I am, because I campaigned for Remain. 

“And, I have to say, despite my best efforts – and I have tried – in the three years since I have never at any stage seen that Brexit was going to deliver any benefits to this country whatsoever.” 

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that the bill to attempt to block a no-deal Brexit in October is “a deeply reckless and irresponsible piece of legislation designed to cancel or at the very least delay Brexit”. 

Speaking to Sky News earlier this morning, Raab said the bill “weakens the Prime Minister’s hand at this pivotal crossroads in negotiations”. 


The British pound has slid below $1.20 today for the first time since the start of 2017, as the UK faces a possible general election amid Brexit turmoil. 

Sterling hit $1.1972 at around 6.40am, later recovering slightly to stand at $1.1987 around 7am. 

The euro is also sitting around levels not seen since since the second half of the same year.

What has the Irish government said in recent days? 

Well, yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he hopes to meet Johnson next week to discuss the ongoing Brexit deadlock. 

“We’re working on two possible dates and we’ll confirm them as soon as they are confirmed,” he said.

Varadkar said he was open to listening to any proposals from Johnson that would remove the need for a backstop, as long as it did not return a hard border to the island of Ireland.

“As I’ve always said, I’m always willing to listen to any proposals that a British Prime Minister has,” he said. 

The backstop is a means to an end. It’s there to ensure that we continue to have frictionless trade north and south, that there’s no physical infrastructure, that there’s no checks, no controls, no tariffs. We want that to continue to be the case.

Varadkar also said that any proposals he had seen for alternative arrangements so far “just manage the border”.

“They facilitate tariffs, they facilitate checks, they facilitate controls, but try to do it in a way that’s invisible and unobtrusive and that’s better than nothing – but it’s not the outcome that we want to achieve,” he said.

Consumers have this morning been warned about the impact Brexit could have on online shopping. 

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is today launching a six-week public awareness campaign in a bid to prepare consumers for the potential impact of Brexit on their rights when they buy online from UK-based retailers.

As part of the campaign, the CCPC has published research that shows 72% of Irish consumers have bought online from a company based in the UK in the last two years.

Given the uncertainty around Brexit, the CCPC has advised consumers to be aware of the potential changes and to take action before they buy online from the UK.

You can read more about the issue here: 

Irish protest

A group of Irish-based Britons are today planning to protest outside the British embassy in Dublin against the UK government’s planned suspension of Parliament. 

The protest is being organised by a newly formed pop-up campaign group called Brits Not Out. 

They say they “care about democracy at home and the probable impact of Brexit in both countries”. 

The protest will take place at 6pm today. 

MP Keith Simpson has joined Justine Greening in announcing that he will not seek reelection at the next general election. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the government to be more transparent on outcomes of a no-deal Brexit.

“When the original deadline was set for Brexit, we were told we were ready and it transpired we weren’t ready for a no-deal Brexit,” Martin said, speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Martin expressed concerns over Ireland’s state of readiness in terms of dealing with Ireland’s ports and the agrifood sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

He said: 

“In terms of what our capacity, for example, in terms of land bridge, in terms of our port capacity, I’m deeply concerned in terms of our state of readiness in terms of our ports … in terms of movement of goods, in terms of the entire logistics in around the transport of merchandise from Ireland via the UK into Europe and back. 

“In terms of the agrifood sector, how we would seek to protect it in terms of financial resources.”

Speaking of the €100 million package announced by the government for the agrifood sector recently, Martin said: “That was announced during the local elections and look at the length of time it’s taken to implement that with conditions and strings attached, but it would need far more than that in terms of a no-deal Brexit.”

Speaking of the possibility of a UK general election being called, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has called on parties in Northern Ireland to considering running joint Remain candidates who will commit to taking up their seats in Westminster. 

He said that it is “unacceptable that so much Brexit decision making has happened in Westminster without proper representation of the Remain majority in Northern Ireland and without a functioning executive in Northern Ireland”. 

“The voice of the majority in Northern Ireland is being denied and distorted as things stand. As a general election approaches, radical steps are required to ensure the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, and indeed the Republic, are looked after,” he said.

Meanwhile, our reporter Daragh Brophy is down at the Áras this morning, where President Michael D Higgins is set to welcome US Vice President Mike Pence shortly. 

Brexit will be on the top of the agenda later as Pence is due to hold talks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh. 

Ex-Cabinet minister Justine Greening has told Sky News why she won’t stand at the next UK general election. 

“Parliament is utterly gridlocked on Brexit, it’s going to stay gridlocked,” she said. 

“I want to achieve change on the ground and I think I’m better placed doing that outside parliament.”

A judge in Edinburgh has begun hearing arguments over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament, the BBC is reporting.

Pictured below are pro-EU demonstrators outside the Court of Session, where the hearing is taking place. 

brexit Source: Andrew Milligan via PA Images

So, as noted below, MPs will today vote on a bill that will try to prevent a no-deal Brexit and force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit deadline if he can’t strike a deal with Brussels in the next few weeks.

However, a senior government spokesman has suggested that Johnson will seek to dissolve parliament and call a general election for 14 October if MPs – including rebels in his own Conservative Party - pass that vote.

In TheJournal.ie’s poll today, we’re asking: Who would you like the biggest party in government to be if the UK holds a general election?

Click here to cast your vote

That’s all from me, Hayley Halpin, for now. 

My colleague Sean Murray is taking over to keep you up to date with all things Brexit as we head towards midday. 

Thanks Hayley!

If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth checking out this profile of Dominic Cummings from our colleague Gráinne Ní Aodha. 

The Vote Leave chief is Boris Johnson’s top advisor, and the some of the stories coming out about him are sounding more and more like something from The Thick of It.

He hit the headlines at the weekend when it emerged he fired the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s advisor Sonia Khan and had her escorted off the premises by armed police.

This morning, the Daily Telegraph has reported that Cummings said in internal strategy discussions that fresh negotiations with the EU were a “sham”. 

Some more on that Scottish court hearing now.

Sky News’ Sam Coates is reporting that the court has heard that officials in Number 10 were discussing suspending parliament back in mid-August.

A handwritten note from Boris Johnson himself on 16 August said the “whole Sept session is a rigmarole… introduced to show the public MPs are earning their crust, so I don’t see anything shocking about this decision”.

Staying in the north of the UK, the Scottish National Party MP Ian Blackford has been speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland.

Blackford reckons a general election would be a “fantastic opportunity” for a second run at a Scottish independence vote.

It would be a chance to send “send a very clear message to Westminster that we should be able to determine our own future,” he said. 

All the talk is of an October general election, and all eyes will be on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to see if he’ll acquiesce to going to the public. 

Labour MP Owen Smith has told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that “we’ve heard some mixed messages” on the topic.

“My view is that we should vote against a general election that is being sold to us by Boris Johnson, who thinks he is playing the entire country for fools,” he said. 

More on that Labour stuff now, and the Times political correspondent Henry Zeffman is hearing “upwards of half” of its MPs oppose signing up to a 14 October general election.

brexit Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

And some news just breaking in the last few minutes with former Tory Prime Minister John Major given permission in court to join the legal action under way in London to stop the proroguing of parliament. 

Lawyers for Major have been granted leave to make oral submissions at the hearing on Thursday. 

A formal application has now been submitted for an emergency debate on the European Union withdrawal in the House of Commons. It’s basically a box-ticking exercise, and the next necessary step in having that debate today. 

Speaker John Bercow will now consider it, and almost certainly allow it to be held, with things kicking off at around 2.30pm this afternoon.

To reiterate, the motion being put forward by those opposed to Johnson’s plans from all sides of the House would rule out a no-deal Brexit on 31 October and delay leaving the EU by at least a number of months.

Prime Minister Johnson’s plan would then be to seek to call a general election in a bid to seek a mandate for the Brexit he wants.

It’ll be an interesting few days, at the very least. 

Right so, back to what they’ll be debating in parliament. There’s lots of things that might happen in the next few days and weeks.

Let’s break it down.

1. Taking back control… again.

Stop me if you heard this one before. (Remember when MPs were taking back control of Brexit from Theresa May? That feels like ages ago. Anyway, I digress.)

So MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit – chief among them senior Conservatives such as Philip Hammond and Labour stalwarts like Hillary Benn – have sought an emergency debate today.

They’re seeking the emergency debate on Brexit because of Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament, effectively suspending the House of Commons for a number of weeks and leaving them with little time to block a no-deal Brexit before 31 October.

In this debate today, they’ll be seeking support for a piece of legislation that would propose extending Brexit until 31 January at the earliest. 

If it passes, Johnson is likely to seek a general election…

brexit Source: Victoria Jones/PA Images

2. How would Johnson call an election?

It’s not as simple as Boris just saying he wants an election. Under a piece of UK legislation called the Fixed Term Parliament Act, it’d be up to the House of Commons to decide. 

Calling an early election requires a two-thirds majority in parliament to pass.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not clear if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would back an election. If Labour did back holding a general election, then this would pass easily. If they don’t, it gets a bit trickier. 

The mooted date right now for an election is 14 October. But fears have been raised that Johnson could wait till parliament has been suspended and push back the election till after 31 October leaving the UK outside the EU without a deal.

At a briefing in Number 10 today, journalists were told that it’s “simply wrong” to say that the date could be changed, Sky’s Sam Coates reported. 

3. Why would Johnson call an election at all?

Put simply, it’s probably seen as the best way his government can stay in control of the Brexit process right now.

Johnson reiterated outside Number 10 last night that the UK would be leaving the EU on 31 October “come what may”. 

If MPs vote this evening to push back Brexit if there’s no withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, Johnson would be faced with two options – acquiesce to delaying Brexit or ignore the will of parliament. 

If he holds a general election, he’ll hope he can win a majority for the Conservatives and clear a path to leaving the EU once and for all. 

4. Is there anything else that can happen?

Of course there is. This is British politics. 

So, if Labour doesn’t want a general election, Johnson’s government can try force through a short amendment to the Fixed Term Parliament Act and have a general election anyway. This would be a risky strategy though, and not certain to succeed. 

Another risky option to force a general election soon would be for the government to call a vote of no confidence in itself. 

MPs would then have to decide if they had confidence in the government. In this bizarre situation, it’s not unfeasible for Boris to vote against himself being prime minister. 

What that would do is create a two-week period where parties would have to get together to form a government. Even with the support of other parties, Labour would struggle for the numbers.

If a new government isn’t formed after 14 days, a general election is automatically triggered – giving Johnson the outcome he wanted in the first place.  

All of that is a roundabout way of saying it looks like there’ll be a general election next election.

But as I also said earlier: This is British politics. 

Doing the rounds today on Brexit media Twitter is this document leaked to Politico

From the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union, it’s pretty clear that any available technology solution “is unlikely to resolve the challenge” for the transport of goods like food over the Irish border.

“Rather a bespoke regulatory solution may be necessary,” it says. 

In lieu of such a regulatory solution, anyone for a backstop?

What about the Liberal Democrats in all this? 

In our totally non-scientific poll of readers this morning, they’re the most popular with 41.3% of you saying you’d like them to be the biggest party in government if the UK holds a general election.

brexit poll

In other Lib Dem news, MP Layla Moran has told the BBC’s Politics Live programme Johnson’s government warning it could push for a 14 October election is “obviously a trap”. 

“Anything that comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth I just assume the opposite is going to happen,” Moran said. 

And what about the DUP in all this, I hear you ask?

Sammy Wilson has also been speaking to the BBC. 

He doesn’t think “any sane person” would vote for the emergency legislation being put forward today aiming to block a no-deal Brexit.

Wilson, whose party are helping to keep Johnson and the Conservatives in power, said that this will only “continue the uncertainty in the country”. 

There are a number of Conservative MPs who are going to defy Johnson today in their vote to block a no-deal.

They’ve been warned that they’ll lose the party whip if they vote against it. 

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has said the so-called rebels seem “v confident” they’ll have the numbers to win the vote. 

A meeting of Tory rebels with Johnson also went “less than swimmingly”. 

The rebels have fared better with Corbyn.

They’re apparently “buoyant” after a meeting with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, Sky’s Kate McCann reports.

More on the SNP, and its Westminster leader Ian Blackford reckons “we know exactly what Boris Johnson is up to”. 

He also told the BBC that “we need to be able to influence the date of that election”.

After the earlier cross-party meeting, Blackford added there was a “great determination” to remove the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

While Britain’s path remains uncertain, the French are doing what they can to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

A “rehearsal” is set to take place at the port of Calais for how it would operate in such a scenario later this month.

More on that meeting between Johnson and the rebels now.

Multiple outlets are reporting the details, including that the prime minister apparently gave an “unconvincing” explanation as to how any new deal with the EU could be ratified, drafted and legislated before 31 October, given that Johnson was already proroguing parliament for a month.

Furthermore, he told them that they would be “handing power to Jeremy Corbyn” by backing the bid to block a no-deal today. 

Who do we think will play all these characters in the future film adaptation (given Sky’s Beth Rigby’s characterisation here)? 

Benedict Cumberbatch has already portrayed Dominic Cummings once. I’d much prefer Peter Capaldi in any future screen portrayal.

Source: BBC America/YouTube

There’s a few more details on what’ll happen in the House of Commons today now. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the house on the recent G7 summit, at around 3.30pm. Chancellor Sajid Javid will make a statement on the country’s Brexit preparedness an hour later.

It might not be till later this evening we get the debate we’re waiting for. 

Robocop, meanwhile, is protesting against Brexit outside the House of Commons.

brexit Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Images

It’s Michael Gove, not Sajid Javid, who’ll make that statement on Brexit preparations at 4.30pm.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been speaking about the cross-party meeting earlier.

He told Sky News: “It was a very good meeting. We met in my office and had a very good discussion. People were in good humour because we’re working together to try to stop this government crashing out on 31 October.

“Today, the priority is the application has been made for the order paper to be handed over to the Commons tomorrow in order to introduce legislation which we fully expect to pass through all its stages in the House of Commons tomorrow, and it will to to the Lords and hopefully become law very quickly.”

brexit Source: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images

Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville-Roberts has also been speaking to Sky.

She said that the opposition leaders today agreed not to back an early general election until the bill to block no-deal for now passes.

“We must be very alert to not accepting a general election on the terms of the prime minister which suits the prime minister and the prime minister alone,” she said.

That is a pertinent point, as Johnson has the potential to try to pre-empt the results of a vote he could lose by pushing ahead with attempting to call a general election. 

As pointed out earlier, however, he needs two-thirds of MPs to support this. And after that, it gets trickier again. 

We don’t have to wait till later today for things to kick off between those on different sides of the Brexit spectrum.

Here’s Conservative Helen Whately clashing with Labour’s Jon Ashworth on BBC a little earlier.

And with that, I’m all Brexited out for the time being.

I leave you in the capable hands of Gráinne Ní Aodha with parliament due to get under way soon. 

No one has as many browser tabs open as I do right now.

In one of the most crucial weeks in modern British politics, with various legal battles ongoing to fight the government’s use of its power to prorogue the House of Commons until just before the Brexit deadline, it’s all about to kick off as Boris Johnson comes face to face with those incensed MPs.

Gráinne Ní Aodha here taking you through all that fiery debates, chess-move like legislative actions and, of course, reaction from the Irish side.

Kick-off time in the House of Commons is 2.30, with Boris due to appear at 3.30, but until then, this has caught our eye…

…Brexit means Brexit. So alternative arrangements mean alternative arrangements.

The hearing in Edinburgh’s Court of Session has unearthed some interesting documents. 

The UK government refused to give an affidavit to the court on its decision to prorogue, and instead submitted a schedule of documents at 10.55pm last night, which Aidan O’Neill QC said was “way past my bedtime.”

In them, they seem to show that Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and others approaching the queen to prorogue parliament in mid-August – well before it was made public. A second document talks about a “handling plan”. 

It’s not clear who penned the documents, but O’Neill argued that handing them over was done to avoid Boris Johnson giving his statement and risking contempt of court if it were found to be false.

An excellent and comprehensive thread of the morning’s events by Michael Gray here

Another excellent nugget from another excellent thread on the Scottish case:

There’s war now over the documents, questions raised on whether all documents were handed over to the Scottish courts, and why Johnson didn’t give a statement.

“Have Sir Mark Sedwill, Nikki Da Costa, and Dominic Cummings, released all electronic communications under legal disclosure procedures?”

Apparently they have -

Insult Of The Day (so far): “Incontinent mendacity”

Aaaaaand the House of Commons is back – Foreign Secretary is first off answering questions about the political situation in Kashmir and the UK government’s handling of it.

Tensions have soared between the two states over the disputed state, as Indian authorities launched a sweeping crackdown in Kashmir, which included cutting phone and internet access, placing restrictions on movement and arresting thousands.

Following repeated calls to protest, thousands gathered in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Friday in front of the prime minister’s secretariat, where its Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to continue fighting for Kashmir until it was “liberated”.

Dominic Raab 2 Source: TheJournal.ie

Raab is answering questions about the Hong Kong protests now, saying that he has raised the issues highlighted by MPs with the Chinese foreign minister.

He said that in relation to the disproportionate reactions in response to protests, that the bodies where complaints about police behaviour are made need to be credible. 

Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, is speaking now. 

Earlier, Soames told The Sun that he would vote against the government’s effort to push through a no-deal Brexit unless Boris Johnson gave assurances that efforts were being made to get a deal with the EU.

Since Johnson had threatened to remove the whip from MPs who would do this, it would force Johnson to remove the whip from the grandson of his political hero. 

Soames Source: UK parliament

Gibraltar and Brexit is being discussed now, and some of the details outlined in the Operation Yellowhammer document. 

Yellowhammer raised concerns about how Gibraltar was prepared for a no-deal Brexit, saying that there would be problems with the free-flow of  goods, traffic and people.

Minister of State Christopher Pincher MP says he wants a deal but is prepared to leave without a deal.

He said that he engages regularly with the chief minister of Gibraltar, who said that the Yellowhammer dossier was outdated.

“He assures me that Gibraltar is ready,” he said.

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, asks what mechanisms the UK government has to document the loss of lives due to limited medication supplies that are expected in a no-deal Brexit.

Dominic Raab says that the UK government is used to stockpiling medicine before Brexit and said that MPs should not give in to scaremongering. 

Thornberry replies that she’s specifically talking about medicines that cannot be stockpiled, as outlined by Operation Yellowhammer.

Raab says it’s “shameful” and “appalling” of her to “scaremonger by asking such a question, and then answers:

“…Medical supplies will be protected in any scenario.”

As this is going on, Mike Pence is visiting Dublin – but Brexit still made an appearance.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined the threat to Northern Ireland and Ireland Brexit poses, and asked him to make this clear in the White House:

“And so Mr Vice President I ask, that you bring that message back to Washington with you.

“This is not a problem of our making. It is one we want to solve – through an orderly Brexit and a withdrawal agreement that guarantees no re-emergence of a hard border on this island.”

Interesting that Varadkar says “a” withdrawal agreement, rather than “the Withdrawal Agreement”. Is there a new deal on the table…?

A fun one.

Political artist Kaya Mar holds his painting of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left), Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (centre), and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (right) as he stands opposite Parliament Square in London.

britain-brexit Source: AP/PA Images

Swearing in Source: Parliament TV

New MP for Brecon & Radnorshire Jane Dodds is sworn in by taking the oath in Welsh and in English, after winning a bye-election.

Boris Jo Source: Parliament TV

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson starts his address by saying it’s 80 years since the UK entered the Second World War (of course) and at his by-the-by mention of protecting the rule of law, the House of Commons erupts into boos and jeers.

“Britain is on the verge of taking back our trade policy and we could achieve even more with our trade with the US by achieving a comprehensive trade agreement.”

He said that he and US President Donald Trump have agreed that the NHS is “not on the table”, and decried anti-American comments.

While addressing the House of Commons for the second time as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson lost his parliamentary majority.

Johnson quotes Emmanuel Macron to the House of Commons: “If there are things he said can be adapted can be in keeping with stability in Ireland and the integrity of the Single Market, we should identify them in the coming months.”

He accuses Tory rebels and members of the opposition of not wanting to hear the progress being made by the British government in securing what Johnson calls concessions from the EU.

Even by House of Commons standards, this is chaotic – with Bercow cutting in to tell MPs to keep it down as Johnson’s address continues.

*Ireland visit*

Boris Johnson says he’ll be discussing issues about agrifood and the all-island economy when he visits the Taoiseach in Dublin on Monday, confirming a date for that “early September” visit. 

“Mr Speaker we promised that we would get Brexit done,” Johnson says, asking parliament to reject the vote on the bill tonight.

Bercow corrects him, and says that the vote tonight is on a motion, and not a bill. 

Corbyn is up next.

Philip Lee’s letter to the Prime Minister on his resignation.

Corbyn asks Johnson, among other things:

  • To publish no-deal Brexit forecasts, so the public doesn’t have to rely on leaks
  • To withdraw his comments that Hilary Benn’s bill was a “surrender bill”
  • To take action against the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest, and to stand up for the Hong Kong protesters. 

For those of you that missed the Lee defection:

The pound seems to be reacting well to Johnson’s loss of parliamentary power.

This is the take from the Irish Times’ London correspondent, Denis Staunton. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn and the Scottish National Party’s Ian Blackford have – and there’s no better explanation for it – slagged Johnson for losing his majority.

Opposition MPs have hit their stride…

Former Chancellor and senior Tory rebel Philip Hammond is up – he’s booed as he asks about Merkel who has indicated that no alternatives or solutions have been suggested by the UK side.

He said that whenever anything is suggested by the UK parliament, “the first thing they ask Mr Speaker is what will the UK parliament do?”

“We can remove the backstop, he knows this very well,” Johnson says to Hilary Benn.

“But as long as MPs keep suggesting motions like the one tonight, we have no chance of making progress with our EU friends.”

Nigel Dodds is up, the deputy leader of the DUP.

He raises concerns about the implementation of laws in Northern Ireland – but Belfast or London wouldn’t have a say over those laws.

He asks Johnson to convey to Varadkar on Monday to try to get some momentum on Ireland on alternative arrangements.

“He and I are at one in relation to the backstop,” Johnson replies. “We can get rid of the backstop, we can make progress, but not if we take away the possibility of a no deal, which is what the Rt Hon gentleman (Corbyn) is proposing to do.”

Labour’s Angela Eagle asks will the Prime Minister obey the rule of law (basically if the House of Commons vote and legislate to block a no-deal Brexit, will he obey that).

He answers quite curtly: “We will of course obey the constitution and obey the law.”

There’s a short silence and an audible “what?” from the chamber, before a short murmur.

Hilary Benn asks whether Johnson’s government has submitted any proposals to the EU. Any at all. He said:

“We have been in extensive talks. It doesn’t make sense to negotiate in public but it’s clear from what I said that the backstop is unacceptable as is the political declaration. And we have detailed proposals for how to address both issues.”

Anna Soubry asks Johnson whether his adviser Dominic Cummings called the EU negotiations a sham, and whether Johnson called the Telegraph about a story that featured in their paper today.

Johnson says that the reports in the Telegraph today seemed “wholly implausible”, but that he hadn’t had “the time to ring any journalist today on any matter because I’m working hard on getting the UK out of the EU on October the 31st”.

The Cummings question hangs there.

Johnson looks on the backfoot, as lively as a handful of his statements are.

Johnson Source: Parliament TV

Johnson is asked again – if the House of Commons votes for an extension, and passes legislation about an extension, whether he will abide by that law. 

“I will abide by the law, but I have to say that it is quite an incredible thing to propose… which will make it impossible to get the deal that this country needs.”

Johnson is asked: if he gets a new EU deal, would those Tory members who don’t vote for it lose the party whip, as was the threat being leveled at those who vote for Benn’s bill tomorrow.

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” Johnson says. The House collectively grimaces. 

This is interesting, from RTÉ’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly:

“An EU source said 2 warnings from the Commission set ‘alarm bells’ ringing: that Johnson was reducing the ambition of the Joint Report (no hard border, protecting North South cooperation + the all island economy) to a pledge to have trade that is ‘as frictionless as possible’.”

Boris Johnson on the Good Friday Agreement and Dublin:

Actually, it is the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement that undermines that balance of the Good Friday Agreement. After all important matters… it gives a greater preponderance to the voice of Dublin in the affairs of Northern Ireland than the UK.

That is the simple fact and I don’t think it’s understood.

“So that is one of the reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement itself is in conflict with the Good Friday Agreement.”

Enjoyable break from the repetition from Labour MP Sir Desmond Swayne:

“I once took a train to Manchester to negotiate the price and purchase of a Morris minor, having only bought a one-way ticket. It wasn’t a sensible negotiating strategy, was it?”

Johnson’s reply is limp by comparison:

“No, Mr Speaker, it wasn’t. I don’t know what happened to my Rt Hon friend, but we intend to do a much better deal in the next few weeks.”

Great, great question from Michael, who says Johnson admonishes this House for opposing the Withdrawal Agreement, but adds that Johnson voted for it twice himself.

“Why is it ok for him to vote against it, but not us?”

Johnson: “What everybody in this House wants to do is bring this matter, bring Brexit to a conclusion and get this thing done. I urge him if he wants to deliver Brexit with a deal then the best thing he can do is support the government tonight and tomorrow.

It’s all in tatters now:

Another day, another disaster.

We’re going to leave it there, but we’ll have a rolling piece on the request for an emergency debate and the possible vote after that as the evening goes on. Stay tuned…


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