MPs fail in Commons bid to block no-deal Brexit by next PM
Labour says Parliament will continue to fight against a disorderly withdrawal from the EU.
MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit have failed in their latest attempt to seize control of parliamentary business in a bid to stop the next prime minister taking Britain out of the EU without a deal with Brussels.
The Commons voted by 309 to 298 to defeat a cross-party motion which would have given MPs control of the business of the House on June 25.
The vote came after Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson warned that MPs would “reap the whirlwind” if they tried to thwart Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
For Labour, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the move would have enabled MPs to prevent the next prime minister leaving without a deal.
Any Tory leadership candidate should know that Parliament will continue to fight against no deal Sir Keir Starmer
Labour sources made clear they would try to find other parliamentary routes.
“This is a disappointing, narrow defeat. But this is just the start, not the end of our efforts to block no deal,” Sir Keir said.
“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.
“Any Tory leadership candidate should know that Parliament will continue to fight against no deal.”
The motion was supported by the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Plaid Cymru as well as the Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin.
Earlier, Mr Johnson launched his bid to succeed Theresa May with a warning that Britain must leave the EU by the latest deadline of October 31, with or without a deal.
He said that voters would not stand for it if MPs tried to frustrate the result of the 2016 referendum.
“I think maturity and a sense of duty will prevail. I think it will be very difficult for friends in Parliament to obstruct the will of the people and simply to block Brexit,” Mr Johnson said.
“I think if we now block it, collectively as parliamentarians we will reap the whirlwind and we will face mortal retribution from the electorate.”
After three years and two missed deadlines we must leave the EU on October 31 Boris Johnson
However, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was in danger of boxing himself “into a corner”, warning the EU would not re-open negotiations on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
“I don’t think it’s sensible for candidates to box themselves into a corner on this,” he said.
“I think it will be very difficult – in fact I think it will be impossible – to do this by October 31 and I don’t think it will be in our national interest that we drive towards this cliff-edge at speed.”
Mr Johnson insisted that he was not aiming for no-deal, but said the Government had to show it was serious about leaving if it was to stand any chance of securing concessions for the EU.
“It is only if we have the guts and the courage to get ready for it (no-deal) that we will carry any conviction in Brussels to get the deal that we need,” he said.
He warned that failure to deliver on the referendum result would create an “existential threat” for both Labour and the Conservatives.
“Around the country there is a mood of disillusion, even despair, at our inability to get things done,” he said.
“After three years and two missed deadlines we must leave the EU on October 31.”