Brexit: MPs Fail In Bid To Seize Control Of Parliament And Block No-Deal

Ned Simons

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MPs have narrowly failed in their bid to seize control of the parliamentary agenda in order to block the next Conservative prime minister from forcing a no-deal Brexit.

Labour led a cross-party move on Wednesday to give MPs the power introduce legislation on Tuesday June 25.

But MPs voted 298 to 309 against the motion - a majority for the government of 11.

It would have opened the way for MPs to pass a law opposing the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.

The ability to schedule what happens in the Commons normally rests with the government.

When Tory MPs cheered the result, Jeremy Corbyn shouted at them across the chamber: “You won’t be cheering in September.”

A number of contenders for the Tory leadership, including frontrunner Boris Johnson, have said they would accept a no-deal exit if no new agreement has been reached by October 31.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, has even indicated he would shut down, or prorogue, parliament in order to prevent MPs blocking no-deal.

The suggestion prompted a furious backlash from opposition parties as well as rival Tory leadership candidates.

Rory Stewart, the international development secretary, said taking such an action would be “illegal”.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said it would go against everything British soldiers “fought and died for” on D-Day.

Ken Clarke, the veteran pro-EU former Tory cabinet minister, said any prime minister who prorogued parliament to force no-deal would be adopting “dictatorial powers”.

And in a dramatic intervention, Dominic Grieve, the former Tory Attorney General, said he would “not hesitate” to vote to “bring down” the government if it was the only way to stop no-deal.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, said the defeat was “just the start, not the end” of Labour’s efforts to block no-deal.

“Labour stands ready to use whatever mechanism it can to protect jobs, the economy and communities from the disastrous consequences of a no deal Brexit,”  he said.

“Any Tory leadership candidate should know that parliament will continue to fight against no-deal.”