In two votes, MPs stymied Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

You can read my earlier report here.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill

The Hilary Benn – Alistair Burt Bill passed the House of Commons, effectively limiting the chances of No Deal Brexit in favour of yet ANOTHER cap-in-hand request to the EU for yet ANOTHER extension!

Burt, by the way, is a rebel Tory and is now an Independent:

Parliament’s website has a summary of the bill, known officially as the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill:

The Bill would require that unless the House of Commons approves a deal with the EU or the House of Commons agrees a no-deal Brexit, the Government must by 19 October 2019 seek an extension to the Article 50 period until 31 January 2020.

In debating it yesterday afternoon, a handful of Conservative MPs loyal to the British public pointed out that some Remainer MPs — unnamed — are in league with Brussels to prevent a No Deal Brexit or any Brexit at all.

They further accused Remainer MPs of playing for time. The more extensions they get, the further away the timeline moves from the 2016 referendum, at which point they could say that it’s time for a second referendum.

There are already some MPs with private estates or farms that receive EU grants. So, they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Others must have some other dependency on the EU financially, otherwise, they would vote to leave on October 31. At some point, someone will reveal more about this.

In any event, the bill progressed to the House of Lords, which — despite the amendments the Conservative peer Lord True tabled (he lives up to his name) — is scheduled to clear by the end of the day, Friday, September 6. The Lords will then return it, with amendments, to the Commons for further debate on Monday. It is likely to pass into legislation.

On Thursday, September 5, Guido Fawkes reported that, in a twist of events, No. 10 has agreed with opposition MPs that the Lords should be enabled to clear this by Friday. That would indicate that the 100+ amendments that Lord True tabled have either been reduced or eliminated:

… following Boris’s defeat in the [C]ommons, there ha[ve] been reports that far from the 100 hours-worth of debate we were anticipating in the Lords, the Government has conceded defeat and negotiated with the opposition to agree Hilary Benn’s Bill to complete all its stages by Friday – with the bill then going back to the Commons for any further consideration on Monday.

This sounds like a further climbdown on the government’s part, but Guido explains that this could help Boris get more leverage for a snap general election (emphasis in the original):

It looks like the decision was accepted by Boris, who now will want legislation to be passed as quickly as possible, to ensure Labour can’t again duck out of backing a general election next week. Prorogation could be enacted as late as the 12th, allowing Boris to secure his preferred route to an election by the 16th…

We can but see.

More on the bill follows below.

General Election voted down

Last night, Boris brought forward a motion for a general election.

MPs defeated him on this vote, too.

Until 2011, it was relatively easy for a sitting Prime Minister to call for a general election. However, in 2010, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had to form a coalition government with the leader of the Liberal Democrats at that time, Nick Clegg. The Liberal Democrats are a far smaller party than either the Conservatives or Labour. In order to secure the Liberal Democrats’ position in the coalition, Parliament passed the Fixed Term Parliament Act, under which no general election can be held unless two-thirds of all sitting MPs approve it. The Queen then rubber stamps the decision.

Last night’s vote was overwhelmingly in favour of a general election, however, not all of the MPs voted Aye or No. Some abstained. Others did not vote at all:

The replies to the tweet show that the British public are not happy:

Yes, indeed.

As I write on Thursday, it appears that the Government could be contemplating another motion for an election, to be tabled on Monday:

That said, this is what the Prime Minister said after Thursday’s vote:

The Opposition has opted to show confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.

That is true.

One member of the public summed up the result as follows:

Remainers: Proroguing Parliament is like basically a coup, yah? So Boris is like basically a dictator.

Boris: Let’s ask the people.

Remainers: We changed our minds.

Yes, in effect, a general election would be a People’s Vote on Brexit. The Left has been clamouring for a People’s Vote — a second referendum — for most of this year. A general election would accomplish the same objective.

It is also worth noting that Labour have also been calling for a general election since February 2018, only months after the June 2017 election was held. This video shows all their requests:

The following tweets from The Independent‘s John Rentoul explain Labour’s reasoning for voting against the Government’s motion on Wednesday:

What Boris might be thinking

These two defeats on Boris’s first full day in the Commons look terrible, and indeed they are, however, knowing that he is a keen student of world history going all the way back to the Ancient World, he and his Svengali, Dominic Cummings, no doubt have other cards they intend to play.

On these two votes, some on Twitter offer speculation. One involves Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata, who is a Brexit Party MEP:

It makes sense.

What Boris said last night

Late yesterday evening, the Prime Minister gave a ten-minute interview to ITV’s Robert Peston, in which he discussed his past two days in Parliament:

At the 2:00 mark, he discussed the new Bill, saying that it damages his ability to negotiate a good deal with the EU. He said that it also dictates the letter he is to write for an extension.

You can see the letter here on page 8. Talk about supplication!

It is clear that Remainer MPs are now out in the open about their opposition to No Deal. The public understands what is going on:

Yep!

Boris’s brother resigns

The Prime Minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, has a place in the Cabinet, but has chosen to become a rebel and resign the Party whip.

News broke early Thursday afternoon. Andrew Neil discussed it on his BBC show that day:

The now-former Minister for Universities and Science tweeted:

ITV’s Robert Peston quipped:

Was it a surprise or not?

Someone replied with the referendum result for Johnson’s Kent constituency:

Jo Johnson failed to mention that his constituency of Orpington had a 57.54% estimated LEAVE vote in 2016

Johnson’s resignation was only a matter of time. I was surprised to see him accept his brother’s offer of a Cabinet post in July, considering his Remainer views.

In other news

Boris’s top adviser Dominic Cummings was found in contempt of Parliament in March 2019 for his 2016 role in the Vote Leave campaign, which he chaired. He refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, which accused him of spreading fake news for the campaign.

On Wednesday, Damian Collins MP wrote again to ask him to appear before the committee:

I think Cummings will ignore the request, but I could be wrong.

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And, so, this wraps up a week of excitement in Parliament. What a potboiler this saga is! More to come anon.