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'Back me and sack me': How the British papers covered MPs 'taking control' of House

MPs have voted to seize control of parliamentary business in an unprecedented move that the government called “dangerous”.
Mar 26th 2019, 7:36 AM 17,275 13

THE HOUSE OF Commons has backed a proposal to hold a series of votes tomorrow which will indicate their Brexit preferences.

MPs last night voted by 329 to 302 to seize control of parliamentary business tomorrow in an unprecedented move that the British government called “dangerous”.

Three junior ministers quit the Conservative Party after voting against the government.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt, Health Minister Steve Brine and Business Minister Richard Harrington all resigned. 

In his resignation letter, Harrington said the government’s approach was “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country”.

The Brexit ministry said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the vote, adding that it “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent”.

Almost three years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, last night’s vote sets up a potentially crucial clash between government and parliament on the best way to end the political crisis.

MPs will now have the chance to vote on various options such as revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit, holding another referendum, a deal including a customs union and single market membership or leaving the EU without a deal.

But even if MPs decide a majority course of action, it won’t be legally binding so the government could ignore it. 

“The government will continue to call for realism — any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU,” the Brexit ministry said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “sceptical” about the process and that similar efforts in the past “produced contradictory outcomes or no outcomes at all”.

May yesterday admitted she had still not secured the votes needed to get her twice-rejected Brexit deal through parliament, raising again the prospect that Britain could crash out of the EU in just over two weeks’ time.

Front pages 

‘Back me and sack me’, ‘MPs seize control’, ‘Stuck in the Middle with EU’ and ‘They’ve stolen what’s left of Brexit’ are some of the phrases on the front pages of British newspapers today.

‘National embarrassment’

The European Council last week agreed to delay Brexit until 22 May if MPs back May’s deal this week.

If the UK parliament doesn’t vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, the new deadline would be 12 April and Britain will be expected to indicate a way forward before that date.

The UK would then face the choice of participating in the European Parliament elections at the end of May or exiting the European Union without a deal.

Britain was due to officially leave the EU this Friday, 29 March. May had wanted to delay Brexit until 30 June but last week welcomed the extension, insisting Brexit will still happen.

Some Brexiteers have suggested the delay is part of a wider attempt to stop Britain from leaving the EU.

The European Commission yesterday said it has completed preparations for a no-deal Brexit, noting “it is increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12 April”.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was a “national embarrassment”, adding: “We will still face the prospect of a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”

Contains reporting from © AFP 2019  

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Órla Ryan

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