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MPs vote to take control of Parliament in effort to avoid no-deal Brexit

The motion was passed by 328 ayes to 301 noes.

House of Commons earlier today.
House of Commons earlier today.
Image: PA

Updated Sep 3rd 2019, 10:30 PM

UK MPS HAVE voted to debate a bill tomorrow that would extend the current Brexit deadline to 31 January 2020 at the earliest.

MPs now have the chance to pass all stages of the bill tomorrow. It will then go to the House of Lords. The motion prevented the delay of the debate on Benn’s bill beyond 5pm this Friday. 

The motion was passed by 328 ayes to 301 noes. The full list of votes by party and individual politician can be found here.

This vote allowed debate over the bill to seize parliamentary time in the House of Commons tomorrow. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is tabling a motion for the general election because he will not accept the Benn bill. He added that he will not go along with the bill and that he does not want an election. 

However, he said that if MPs vote for a delay to Brexit tomorrow, he will seek to hold an election. 

“I don’t want an election. The public don’t want an election. But if the House votes for this bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on October 17 to sort this out and take this country forward,” said Johnson after the result was announced. 

Jeremy Corbyn said that if Johnson wants an election, he must get the bill passed first. Johnson said Corbyn would accept “whatever Brussels demands” and “beg” for a further extension. 

The bill has been published by opposition MPs to extend Article 50 and prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal. It would push the current Brexit deadline of 31 October this year to 31 January 2020 at the earliest. 

The results of the vote followed a three-hour debate in the House of Commons, which kicked off just after 7pm. MPs left the chamber to vote at around 9.50pm and the result was announced 20 minutes later.

Johnson had earlier urged the House to reject the bill to “get the right deal for our country, deliver Brexit and take the whole country forward”.

A few key points from the debate: 

  • Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg urged MPs to reject the bill and to “consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create”.
  • Tory rebel Dominic Grieve said he no longer knows what the “will of the people is”, that it is unclear what the British public want and that there should be a referendum. 
  • Former Tory MP Anna Soubry, now leader of the Independent Group for Change, urged MPs to back the motion. 
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg was photographed lying down in the chamber during the discussion, which drew criticism and comment from other MPs including Caroline Lucas. 

Rees-Mogg spoke first this evening. He said the British public voted to leave the EU and that MPs should respect that vote. 

The politician criticised the proposed bill and said that MPs “risk subverting Parliament’s proper role in scrutinising the executive” and made reference to Charles Stewart Parnell. 

Said Rees-Mogg: “The approach taken today is the most unconstitutional use of this house since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell when he tried to bung up Parliament.”

After a back and forth between Rees-Mogg and House Speaker John Bercow, MPs heard from SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford who accused Boris Johnson of acting like a dictator.

He was followed by Tory veteran Ken Clarke who said that if parliament lets itself be sidelined, the impact on what future governments might do would be “horrendous”.

Labour MP Gordon Marsden said there is “not a sniff” of evidence that the government has presented Brexit plans to the EU. 

One of the Tory rebel MPs Antoinette Sandbach said that if Boris Johnson is allowed to shut down parliament to reduce the chances of stopping a no-deal Brexit, there would be nothing to stop another prime minister doing this again. 

Conservative MP Robert Courts urged MPs to vote against the bill and said it was created to “kick the can further down the road in the hope that something would turn up”. This point was furthered by MP Bob Seely. 

“To vote against the government tonight is to vote against even the possibility of a deal,” said Courts. 

This was followed by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas who supports the bill. She criticised the body language of  Jacob Rees-Mogg after he was photographed lying down in the chamber during the discussion. 

Liberal Democrats Brexit spokesman Tom Brake supports the motion and said he has asked colleagues in the European parliament if there is any evidence the UK is putting forward alternative plans to the backstop. 

He said he was told that there has been “total radio silence” from the UK about Brexit negotiations. 

The UK Parliament resumed earlier today after the summer recess. Johnson has already been left without a Conservative majority after Philip Lee joined the Liberal Democrats party earlier today. 

Hilary Benn, Chair of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee, will propose the bill, supported by members such as Alistair Burt, Philip Hammond and Tom Brake. 

Labour leader in the House of Lords Angela Smith has tabled a motion to be debated tomorrow that would make sure all stages of the Benn bill were completed by 5pm this Friday.

Boris Johnson has said that this proposed legislation intends to “chop the legs out from under the government”.

Johnson has repeatedly said that the UK will be leaving the European Union on 31 October, with or without a deal. 

- With reporting from Cónal Thomas. 

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