- The UK government on Wednesday defeated a motion that could have allowed Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
- Opposition MPs had sought the power to pass legislation later this month which could have blocked the next prime minister from leaving the EU without a deal.
- The motion had been backed by opposition parties, plus rebel Conservative MPs.
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LONDON – The UK government on Wednesday defeated an attempt, led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
The House of Commons voted by a majority of eleven against a motion which would have given Members of Parliament the power to pass legislation blocking Britain’s next prime minister from forcing Britain out of the EU without a deal.
12 opposition Labour Party and former Labour Party MPs voted with the government, with more than a dozen other Labour MPs failing to record a vote.
The defeat has significantly increased the possibility of a chaotic Halloween exit and leaves MPs with vanishingly few chances to intervene against an incoming PM who is determined to leave the EU come what may.
This is a big victory for no-dealers
This is a big victory for Brexiteers and will seriously limit the opportunities to prevent no-deal.
Under Britain’s parliamentary democracy, the government almost always controls the legislative process with few opportunities for opposition parties to intervene.
An incoming prime minister could now use that advantage to force through a no-deal. This is something the frontrunner for the job, Boris Johnson, insisted he would do at the launch of his campaign on Wednesday.
“After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31,” Boris Johnson said at a speech in central London.
“Delay means defeat. Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.”
If he really wanted to, Johnson could opt to “prorogue” Parliament – the technical term for shutting it down – in order to prevent MPs from blocking his plans.
He may be unwilling to do that. However, the bigger risk from today’s result, is that MPs from Britain’s two main parties could simply be losing their resolve to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Following the European election results, in which the Brexit Party triumphed over both the Conservatives and Labour, many MPs in both parties are starting to shift towards wanting Brexit over with as soon as possible.
For this reason a Halloween no-deal Brexit can no longer be ruled out.
Businesses know it and are urging politicians to be more vigilant about it.
Many companies have already made plans to stockpile vital goods like food and medicine in the event of the UK leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement on October 31.
But Remainers are not in panic mode… yet
There is still time to prevent a no-deal.
With the Conservative leadership election in full swing, the party is in hyper-partisan mode. Even MPs who personally dread no-deal felt they couldn’t at this moment do anything that could sabotage their preferred candidate’s chances.
This is particularly the case when the motion had the Labour leader’s name on it.
However, the leadership contest is set to conclude on the week beginning July 22.
As soon as that happens, Conservative MPs who oppose no-deal will feel more comfortable voting against it.
The House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has previously found several new avenues for MPs to intervene on this issue and he will almost certainly do so again.
When MPs instructed Theresa May to delay Brexit in April, the key votes were not held until just days before Britain was due to leave.
There are 140 days until October 31.
Pro-European MPs – rightly or wrongly – are not in panic mode… yet.
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