Brexit: MPs lose vote in bid to prevent future Tory PM forcing through no deal

Corbyn could be heard admonishing Tory MPs: ‘You won’t be cheering in September’

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 12 June 2019 17:44
MPs lose vote in bid to prevent future Tory PM forcing through no-deal Brexit

Opposition MPs have lost a critical vote on a bid to prevent a future Conservative prime minister from forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

Labour introduced a motion paving the way for parliament to block a chaotic Brexit by seizing control of the Commons timetable on 25 June.

But MPs rejected the cross-party effort by 309 votes to 298, in a blow to hopes of preventing a Brexiteer prime minister from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal in October.

Eight Labour MPs voted against the cross-party motion and a further 13 did not vote. Ten Conservative backbenchers rebelled to back the motion.

Jeremy Corbyn could be heard admonishing Tory MPs when the result was called, saying: “You won’t be cheering in September.”

The move came after several Tory leadership hopefuls refused to rule out suspending parliament to prevent MPs from blocking a no-deal Brexit in September.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, and Esther McVey, the ex-work and pensions secretary, have both said parliament could be prorogued to ensure the UK leaves by the 31 October deadline.

Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, said: “This is a disappointing, narrow defeat.

“But this is just the start, not the end of our 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.

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

During the debate, Sir Keir warned that Ms May’s successors are engaged in an “arms race to promise the most damaging Brexit”.

He said the Conservative leadership contest had descended into the “disturbing, the ludicrous and the reckless”, joking it was no surprise Boris Johnson was the frontrunner.

The cross-party bid had been backed by the SNP, Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as Tory grandee Sir Oliver Letwin, who successfully seized control of the agenda in March for a series of Brexit votes.

Pointing to the Tory leadership hopefuls, he said: “They know they only have to occupy four weeks of doing nothing and we’re out.

“Although it isn’t a fast burning fuse, it is a bomb the fuse of which is already burning.

“If we don’t put the fuse out now, we won’t be able to dissemble the bomb in September or October, and that’s why it is wrong to say this is premature.”

But veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash said it was an “open door motion” which allowed “for any bill of any kind to take precedence over government business”.

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Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, accused Conservative MPs of “putting party loyalty ahead of national interest” by rejecting the bid.

She tweeted: “Plan to ensure parliament can stop no deal defeated by 309 to 298.

“Tory MPs who voted against this despite knowing the catastrophe no deal presents are putting party loyalty ahead of national interest.”

It comes after Mr Johnson, the Tory frontrunner, refused to rule out a no deal and warned MPs they face “mortal retribution” from the electorate if they try to stop Brexit.

At a packed campaign launch, he said it was essential that Britain left the EU by the October deadline.

The Tories who supported the motion were: Guto Bebb (Aberconwy), Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon), Justine Greening (Putney), Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield), Sam Gyimah (East Surrey), Phillip Lee (Bracknell), Oliver Letwin (West Dorset), Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) and Caroline Spelman (Meriden).

The Labour MPs who voted against were: Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), John Mann (Bassetlaw) and Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).

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