MPs to try to block no-deal Brexit after wresting control of Commons agenda
Boris Johnson has vowed to seek a snap general election following the defeat.
MPs will attempt to block a no-deal Brexit after they defeated the Government to wrest control of the Commons agenda – prompting Boris Johnson to vow to seek a snap general election.
Tory rebels defied the whip to join opposition parties in a move which will see them take control of business in the House on Wednesday in a bid to stop the UK crashing out of the EU on October 31.
The Prime Minister said he would table a motion for a poll under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act on Tuesday night, which could be put to a vote on Wednesday.
However, Labour indicated that they would not back the move – which would require the support of two-thirds of MPs – until chances of a no-deal Brexit were taken off the table.
Mr Johnson said Parliament was “on the brink of wrecking any deal” with Brussels after voting to give the cross-party alliance control of the Commons.
He told MPs: “I don’t want an election but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop the negotiations and to compel another pointless delay of Brexit, potentially for years, then that will be the only way to resolve this.”
Downing Street confirmed that the 21 Tory rebels – including former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond – would lose the Conservative whip as a result of their actions.
Sir Nicholas Soames – Winston Churchill’s grandson – also backed the rebel move, and said he would not stand at the next general election.
Former Tory ministers Rory Stewart, David Gauke, Greg Clark, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Alistair Burt, Sam Gyimah, Anne Milton and Caroline Nokes also voted against the Government.
Mr Gauke tweeted: “For the first time in 14 years as an MP I voted against the Conservative Party whip. That whip has now been withdrawn.
“If tonight’s motion had been lost, a no-deal Brexit would have been almost inevitable. Probably not a good career move but the right choice.”
A source close to the rebels said: “Tonight’s decisive result is the first step in a process to avert an undemocratic and damaging no-deal.
“No 10 have responded by removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson. What has happened to the Conservative Party?”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Prime Minister: “He wants to table a motion for a general election, fine.
“Get the Bill through first in order to take no deal off the table.”
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said it was vital that the Commons does not “tip our country into an election at a point where there is any risk that we will crash out of the European Union during that election campaign or immediately after”.
“We must act responsibly,” she told MPs.
Wednesday is set to be a dramatic day in the Commons, with Mr Johnson due to take his first Prime Minister’s Questions at noon before the Chancellor Sajid Javid sets out public spending plans.
MPs will then debate the draft legislation put forward by a cross-party group which would require a delay to Brexit unless there was a deal or Parliament explicitly backed leaving the EU without one by October 19.
A vote on a general election could be held later in the day.
Meanwhile, a decision is expected at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after a cross-party group of MPs and peers brought legal action aimed at halting the suspension of Parliament.