Parliament moves to prevent no-deal Brexit

September 3, 2019 • 4:45 pm

by Greg Mayer

Just a few minutes ago, the Commons voted 328 to 301, with 21 Tory MPs joining the affirmative, to take control of the agenda from the government. This is a stern rebuke to PM Boris Johnson. With control of the agenda, the Commons will now consider a bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Johnson says he will call for an early election, but he requires a 2/3 vote of the Commons to get this, and it’s not clear he can do so; Labor is divided on the question of whether to go to elections now.

New York Times coverage:

and BBC coverage here, and BBC live updates here.

97 thoughts on “Parliament moves to prevent no-deal Brexit

    1. You’re getting just a minor dose of it. Imagine what it’s like to be getting it day-in, day-out, full-beam.

      1. What’s known on this side, in the Trump era, as a “Scaramucci unit,” since that’s how long The Mooch lasted as White House communications director.

    1. Although to be fair he had already pissed off a fair proportion of MPs well before he became PM. It beats me how/why those for whom he remains the darling of the Tory Party think he is possessed of some special ability to get the job done. His only policy seems to be that optimism alone will carry us through to the Elysean Fields – wherever they may be.

      1. It seems that total, complete and utter untrustworthiness can’t in fact be negated by bumbling and hunching your shoulders. Who knew?

    1. “the rebel alliance” — Never in the field of the Brexit conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.

      1. Everyone who voted against the government is having the whip withdrawn. Which means they cannot stand for the Tories in a general election.

        Soames said on BBC Newsnight that he wouldn’t be standing again anyway.

  1. Kinda surprised BoJo is calling for elections. Can’t imagine that his recent decision to suspend Parliament was actually popular. But what do I know?

    1. The Conservatives have a lead in the polls, with Labor and the Liberal Democrats not far behind. The Lib-Dems are rising fast and BoJo wants an election before they get too strong. He wants to win against a divided opposition.

      1. The polls are…. interesting. The Tories have a lead in the polls but their dip almost exactly mirrors the rise and fall of the Brexit Party. If it is perceived that BoJo cannot deliver Brexit on October 31, I suspect that their support will collapse again.

        On the other side, Labour suffered a huge drop in support between May and July, but this corresponds with a massive rise in support for the Lib Dems. If you add their share of the vote together, it is much larger than the Tory share of the vote, although smaller than the Tory + Brexit Party share. The Scottish Nationalists have a pretty small share of the vote, but it’s all concentrated in the Scottish constituencies.

        Given our electoral system, it is likely that the Brexit Party will get no seats, and the Scottish Nationalists will sweep the board North of the Border. What happens with the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems will depend on the distribution of voters between constituencies, but I don’t think the Tories will win a majority. What I think will result is a hung parliament in which a coalition of Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP will be able to postpone Brexit provided they can put the greater good of the country ahead of petty squabbles about who the prime minister should be.

        For this reason, I do not think BoJo will try to hold an election.

        By the way, Boris Johnson is now definitely in a minority government since he expelled 21 MPs. These are people who have nothing to lose since their careers as Conservative MPs are now over. The anti-No Deal people are now fully in control of Parliament.

  2. I’ll lay odds that Brexit now won’t happen at all which is, after all, the only viable alternative to ‘no deal’. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it by any means, but I think the odds just improved. Leavers of course will jump about in apoplectic fits, shouting about democracy and honouring the referendum result, a vote that was procured by lies, is now several years historical, and is almost certainly regretted by many who voted leave. Democracy? Don’t make me laugh!

    1. Incidentally, it’s ironic that it’s opposition parties that now oppose calling an election. That’s the result of calling a silly referendum based on almost no consideration of the likely effects.

      1. It’s a tactical move, to defeat BoJo’s tactical move. If he calls an election then he could manipulate the date of it so he’s still in power when Leave day arrives and prevent Parliament from overriding him. (At least I think that’s the case).

        I know it’s ironic but it’s not the doing of the opposition parties, in this case.


    2. Also, “Brexit” was always deceptive. It’s not physically — or indeed politically — possible to leave something without having a destination. The Brexit politicians did not campaign with “no deal” and no majority of people voted for such an outcome. Here’s Farrage talking a lot about Norway (is part of the European Economic Area), and that’s just one aspect.

      These claims about the “will of the people” should have been opposed long ago. Aside of that, elected politicians are also the “will of the people”. There are also contradictory demands regards the Irish border.

      There’s an interesting channel still busting the lies of the Brexiters, narrated by Steven Fry.

      1. All fine and good, I suppose, but to an outsider like myself it still sounds as though people who don’t like the way the majority voted are doing mental gymnastics to persuade themselves and others that the majority was misled, mentally incompetent, didn’t really mean it, or meant it at the time but have since changed their minds. I’ve admitted to my ignorance on the question, but no explanation I’ve read here is clear enough to make me change my view, misguided though it may be.

        1. The vote went 52% for Brexit vs 48% for Remain, of those who voted. The turnout was 72%. Therefore, about 37% of voters in total wanted Brexit.

          Now, 52% is a (slim) majority of a vote, but 37% is not the “Will of the People”.

          Those 37% wanted what they thought the Brexit would entail, which were different visions, e.g. being like Norway, and of course a magical solution in Northern Ireland where there is simultaneously a border, but also none (nobody thought about this beforehand). How this is supposed to work: nobody knows.

          There’s ample documentation of the Brexit campaigners who promised everything but not a No Deal Brexit. In other words, the majority of the people did not vote a No Deal Brexit.

          Next, the Brexit campaign was misleading or straight lying. The Remainer’s warnings were branded as “Project Fear” but now that reality draws near, Brexiters themselves have adjusted and said that Britain will “cope” or “there will be adequate food”. Good to know! So much winning.

          1. And don’t forget the potential break up of the United Kingdom. None of the “Leaves” mentioned that possibility. Now they say “No problem.” Talk about moving the goal posts.

        2. I’m sure that many Leavers meant it, and still mean it (Leave is still polling well). But the Campaign Director of Vote Leave himself thinks that the Referendum would not have been won without the lie that it would release £350m a week for the NHS; we have a RemainerNow movement of people who voted Leave and now want to Remain; and here’s a short film made by a former Brexiteer who admits he was ignorant about the Northern Ireland border when he voted – it’s pretty heartbreaking:

          Well done to Oborne for admitting this. That people were misled or ignorant at the time of the Referendum are simply facts that don’t require mental gymnastics to conclude that the result is suspect to some degree.

          1. In other words, people were asleep and are just now waking up: “If we’d known we were going to lose we would have gotten the vote out and won handily. We want a re-do!” Pretty much what happened here with Trump-Hillary except that the Brits don’t have the Russians to blame.

            All of which puts me in mind of my 4-year-old grandson, Weston, who’s learned that it isn’t cool to throw a tantrum when he loses and so has become very good at devising rationales for why he didn’t really lose. E.g., we were playing indoor bowling and Weston, going first, missed all of the pins completely. Then I went and got a strike. Weston assessed the situation and then declared matter-of-factly: “You almost won, Papa, but it’s a very long game.”

  3. As prime minister, Boris Johnson controls the date on which an election is held. Hopefully the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, will hold his nerve and not back an election before a no-deal Brexit has been truly blocked. Despite what Brexit backers argue now, none of them was campaigning for a no-deal Brexit in 2016. On the contrary, we were apparently going to just copy and paste the existing agreements and it was going to be the easiest trade deal ever. Yeah, right…!

    1. Classic bait and switch

      The leaders of Brexit know that it won’t be the huge success that they made it out to be so now no matter what happens, brexit won’t have been their version of brexit and that’s why it failed

      But that’s the stupidity of the brexit question. Remain Vs something else. So the leave side claimed all things for all people and don’t have to live up to any of it

    2. As prime minister, Boris Johnson controls the date on which an election is held.

      This is not true. There are only three ways to call an election:

      1. If five years are up (they are not)

      2. The government loses a no confidence vote. In this case, however, if anybody can put together a majority in the subsequent 8 (I think) days, they can form a government without having another General Election.

      3. There is a vote to dissolve parliament in which 2/3 of the house vote yes. Note, that’s two thirds of all the seats, not two thirds of the people who show up to vote. Labour could stop this simply by abstaining.

      BoJo cannot call a general election without the help of Labour.

  4. BoJo is screwed. Parliament now controls Brexit. He can call an election but he needs 2/3rds of Parliament to agree. Not going to happen. He is boxed in.

    He should have not tried to play hardball with a one vote majority. LOL

    BoJo is not a bad guy, but he listened to Trump. A bad decision.

    1. Johnson is a bad guy. He is a serial liar. As a journalist he was responsible for a string of lies about the EU.

    2. As well as being a serial liar, adulterer, and denied the existence of his child via an affair

      He also organised the beating of another journalist

      He is a bad guy

      But he’s built up this public persona of being a loveable idiot called Boris. His friends all call him Alex, which is his real name

      1. I am not sure it is true that he organised the beating up of a journalist on behalf of another guy. He was certainly asked to assist with this (by providing the journalist’s address) by Darius Guppy but as far as I know he did not actually do so. Nevertheless, if a man is to be judged by the company he keeps, Johnson’s friendship with Guppy does not reflect at all well on him. Furthermore, whilst Johnson may not have actually provided the address of the journalist, the taped phone conversation that revealed this story did not record him telling Guppy that it was an outrageous request and that he would have nothing to do with such a criminal act, as you might expect an upright, principled person to have done…

    3. As of Wednesday morning that is not (yet) true. The Remainers have yet to propose the abject surrender bill (later today) and it might not be voted through. Plus there are several procedural ways to thwart it, such as being talked out in the House of Lords, being deemed unconstitutional, or failing to receive Royal Assent on the advice of the PM.

      *In my opinion* all these shenanigans are about not leaving rather than removing the ‘no deal’ option. In which case the Referendum result will not be honoured and a democratic insult will be delivered to the general populace.

      BoJo may or may not get his General Election, but *if* it results in a ‘Leaver’ Government then Brexit and democracy can progress.

      1. Abject surrender bill? I see you drunk the brexiteers cool aid

        The bill stops gambling the government with British lives and jobs. No deal was never a viable option. The very next day the government would be trying to negotiate a new deal with the EU from a position of further weakness and they would still want a version of the withdrawal agreement signed

        The government is stockpiling body bags in event of a no deal FFS

        Leavers promised leaving would be easy and we’d get a better deal. That was a lie and you’ve been found out. Now you’ve moved the goalposts and claimed you always intented to leave with no deal. No matter what happens, when the shit hits the fan because of brexit, you’d never admit any fault. You’d blame others. As you and other leavers always have

        If you can look at Johnson, Farage and Rees-Mog and think you’re on the right side of history then you’ll be sorely mistaken

        Brexit has become a cult. Like religion, the cure is more knowledge

        1. Section 3.2 of the draft European Union (Withdrawal)(No, 6) Bill:

          “(2) If the European Council decides to agree an extension of the period in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union ending at 11.00pm on 31 October 2019, but to a date
          other than 11.00pm on 31 January 2020, the Prime Minister must, within a period of
          two days beginning with the end of the day on which the European Council’s decision is
          made, or before the end of 30 October 2019, whichever is sooner, notify the President
          of the European Council that the United Kingdom agrees to the proposed extension.”

          Trying to compel your Prime Minister to accept *whatever* a foreign power wants sounds like abject surrender to me.

          Curiously this might make such a Bill unconstitutional in UK terms since it is a ‘money bill’ which can only be proposed by the Government.

          1. No that sounds like a good idea seems as the alternative is ruining the lives of many people and devastating the country for years

            The least worst option I suppose

            I wouldn’t call it surrender. Especially when it’s supported by close to 65% of the population (not leaving with no deal)

            We could test out the whole no deal Vs remain thing but your side know they would lose so they won’t go for that

          2. You conveniently omit / forget subsections 3.3 & 3.4:

            3) But subsection (2) does not apply if the House of Commons has decided not to pass a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown within a period of two calendar days beginning with the end of the day on which the European Council’s decision is made or before the end of 30 October 2019, whichever is sooner, in the following form — “That this House has approved the extension to the period in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union which the European Council has decided.”

            4)Nothing in this section shall prevent the Prime Minister from agreeing to an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union otherwise than in accordance with this section.

      2. I would regard the withdrawal of article 50 as a massive victory for the British people, even if a small majority of them didn’t want it back in June 2016.

        It would be a victory for common sense over the populist lies and deceit of the leading Brexiteers.

        1. Why is it so difficult to withdraw article 50?
          Are the liars Mr Johnson, Mr Farange and worst of all (because contrary to those 2, he lies with panache, somewhat convincingly), Mr Rees Mogg, in charge?
          Is a closely contested non-binding referendum marred by lies, and at the time widely considered a non-confidence vote for Mr Cameron (Mr who?), some kind of Holy Dogma? Or what?
          Why can’t article 50 just be revoked?

          1. It can be revoked quite easily, but only by somebody who is prepared to sacrifice their political career in order to do the right thing. We have nobody of that calibre in politics at the moment.

          2. It could be, I guess, if the UK government said so. My problem is understanding who is the government of the UK right now. BoJo is the PM but he does not have a majority in Parliament. Can a leaderless Parliament pass a bill revoking Article 50. It seems doubtful. We are in terra incognito. BoJo seems right on one thing. The UK needs an election to sort it out.

            1. I really doubt an election would sort it out. Four or five, including IndyRef2 and IndyRefWales might do it. But by that time, the tax-evaders owning most of the British press will have had to declare their assets and pay their taxes, or have left and engineered a coup in the Cayman Isles (other tax havens are available) to retain their money.

  5. What a painful process. But, I like the idea that the parliament is standing up for it’s rights. That rarely happens with the US congress.

      1. If any branch is supreme, Parliament should be since it IS the voice of the people. In the US, the office of president has gained power over decades. Congress has many powers it is reluctant to use, such as the power to declare war. Occasionally it will put it’s foot down and refuse to support or fund a presidents foolishness.

        1. I agree. But the Senate with its non-representative power is a huge problem. I sometimes think the seventeenth amendment, which gives the illusion that the senate is a representative body by making senators directly elected, was a huge mistake. Before the seventeenth, the Senate knew its place as a deliberative body. Now it thinks it is as much a voice of the people as the House. It is not. It is the voice of the states.

          1. I’m not knowledgeable about the issue other than to think that North Dakota, with a population of less than a million has the same voice as California with a population of 39.56 million, is somehow unfair and unjust.

            1. Indeed, a Senate vote in Wyoming carries 70 (yes: seven O) times the weight of one in NY, TX or CA. And the Senate is the most powerful branch of government in the US,

              The idea was to protect smaller states from the dictates of larger states, but with these huge discrepancies (that were -I guess- much smaller between the original 13) the whole idea of democracy becomes kinda moot.
              Now the smaller states dictate the larger ones.

          2. Any state with less than 1 million: 1 senator, any state with more than, say, 15 million 3 senators. The others 2.
            Still not very representative, and somehow ‘protecting’ the smaller states, but a compromise between the rights and power of smaller states and the overall population.
            Alternatively some States could merge: Idaho, Wyoming and Montana (Moidwy), The Dakotas with Nebraska (Nekota) NH with Vermont and Maine (Vernehamai), Oklansas, etc. well, you see the idea.

              1. I haven’t a clue as to why, but I particularly like the comparison of Alabama with Venezuela.

              2. “I haven’t a clue as to why, but I particularly like the comparison of Alabama with Venezuela.”

                No clue either, but I do too.

                And as an expat Englishman, I’m complacent about comparing California with the UK (though the weather might need some adjustment)

                But comparing Texas to Canada? – what have the Canucks ever done to deserve that? 8-(


        2. If any branch is supreme, Parliament should be since it IS the voice of the people.

          Which is the poison that Cameron poured into the chalice before handing it to Parliament under the name of “Referendum plan” – written on the back of a fag-paper packet.

  6. I think BJ needs to play a round of golf. You know, to clear his head and all. Seems to work for Trump. cough. burp. fart.

  7. The 21 rebel Conservatives whom BoJo has cast out of the Party include individuals who are very senior (like Kenneth Clarke) and very reasonable (like Rory Stewart). Could they not join the Independent Group for Change? And what has become of that group?
    When I last read about it, there were ll of them, exiles from both the Corbynistas and the Brexiteers, but now apparently there are only 5 Indy MPs. Did the 6 who resigned remain independent, without a formal party?
    Doesn’t the 5 Indies, and the 6 independent former Indies, and the 21 now ex-Tories, and the 15 Lib-Dems—all comprise a significant Centrist bloc in Parliament?

    1. Doesn’t the 5 Indies, and the 6 independent former Indies, and the 21 now ex-Tories, and the 15 Lib-Dems—all comprise a significant Centrist bloc in Parliament?

      One might think this at first glance, but the problem with Brexit is that it cuts across the normal right/left lines, so some who are adamant about the dangers of Brexit are pretty right wing.

      Anna Soubry, for example, a Remainer who left the Tories because of their drift to hard Brexit, is far from centrist on social policies – she has consistently voted to reduce welfare benefits for the least well off in society, to reduce some taxes and to restrict trade union activity (

      Her views don’t really align with the LibDems, and definitely not with those who have left the Labour party because of their ambiguous attitude to Brexit. I think the splintering of Change UK demonstrates this problem (see the People’s Front of Judea etc in Life of Brian).

      1. Thanks, that does explain much. I guess the seeming incoherence of the whole Brexit affair is the way it fails to follow the old political coordinates. Come to think of it, a lot of ideological wrangling on both sides of the Atlantic is like that.

        1. The Pythons nailed the jelly firmly to the wall in 1978 : “Splitter!”
          Just because they wrote it 40-odd years (sometimes 40 damned-peculiar years) ago doesn’t make the satire less piercing.

    1. That might wash on the daily mail website but not here

      The EU gave the best deal possible given Theresa Mays red lines. We would be out of the EU had Farage and the ERG (and Johnson (his name isn’t Boris, that’s his stage name) twice) not pulled a bait and switch and claimed the withdrawal agreement wasn’t Brexity enough

      There was never a better deal out there, that was just another lie by the Brexiters

          1. No why’s his real name.

            His real name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. His friends and colleagues call him Alex or Alexander

            Boris is the loveable gaffprone good who he used to play on TV and as mayor

    2. The EU has reached a deal. In fact, there are two deals available to the UK.

      1. The May agreement which failed to get accepted because the ERG would rather have no deal.

      2. Full membership of the EU with all rights and privileges. This seems like a brilliant deal to me because it gives us some control over what the EU does in the future.

  8. Who touted him as a “master politician”? I don’t think anyone has besides himself! He’s mostly known for being a posh, entitled slacker who’s never worked for anything in his life!

    1. Who touted him as a “master politician”?

      His PR agent. I can’t remember if they were married at the time and Johnson was committing adultery, or is she was the “other woman” and Johnson was married elsewhere. It’s a tangled genealogy, in the best traditions of the rich and ignoble.

    1. Didn’t know he was the leader of the House, but he is a liar and historical revisionist.
      And, as you say, the embodiment of arrogance, entitlement and contempt for your parliament.
      The more I learn about bra Jacob, the less I like him.

  9. So I hear Brexit will cost UK – soon to be post-colonialist England + other nations to be sure – some 600 million pounds to support people during food and medicine and jobs shortages. Incidentally, the EU is considering promoting UK’s actions to “catastrophe” status to liberate some 600 million euros to support people during jobs shortages et cetera.

    Heart wrenching to read that a 50+ year old tax payer will loose *all* nationality in a Brexit since she arrived at 2 years of age. And she is likely not alone.

    Fake news Boris Johnson is really The Lord Of the Flies here.

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