MPs vote to put Brexit delay into our law
MPS voted last night to change the law so the Prime Minister is forced to seek another delay to Brexit.
In an unusual step, Speaker John Bercow allowed Sir oliver Letwin and Yvette Cooper to fasttrack legislation through the Commons in only one day.
Their Bill, which is expected to be debated in the Lords today, compels Theresa May to ask Brussels for an extension to negotiations, in effect blocking No deal.
The rebels insisted on changing the law even though the Prime Minister had already pledged to delay the country’s departure from the EU beyond next Friday – the day Britain is currently due to leave.
opponents warned last night that a dangerous precedent would be set by rushing the Bill through all its Commons stages in one day. The backbenchers tabled the legislation after wresting control of the parliamentary timetable from ministers.
Sir Bill Cash, Tory chairman of the European scrutiny committee, said the move to pass the Bill in a day was ‘reprehensible’.
‘It is a constitutional revolution and I also believe that it is a very, very undesirable precedent,’ he added. ‘It is almost an unbelievable shambles this Bill and the reality is there is no excuse for it.’
Charles Walker, Tory chairman of the procedure committee, said: ‘I think we will regret what we are doing today – it does worry me. I fear that one day soon – I hope it will not be the case – we will be debating an expropriation of assets Bill in six hours. We would regret that bitterly.’
Former Tory leader Iain duncan Smith said: ‘If we legislate in haste, we will repent at leisure, and we do nothing in this place but repent at leisure again and again.
‘We talk about sweeping away precedents because they are archaic and were around for 200 years or whatever, and that everything modern must be brilliant. I do not agree with that.
‘Sometimes history teaches endless lessons. This place is at its best when it is arguing and debating, and taking its time to do so.’ Conservative MP Nadine dorries said Parliament would ‘rue the day’ if it backed the legislation.
MPs passed the Bill at its second reading yesterday by 315 votes to 310. They were expected to give their final backing in a further set of votes late last night.
Earlier, there were extraordinary scenes as one of the Brexit votes resulted in a tie – the first time that has happened in almost 40 years. MPs voted 310 in favour and 310 against a plan put forward by Labour MP Hilary Benn to hold a third round of indicative votes next week on alternatives to the Prime Minister’s deal, meaning Mr Bercow was given the deciding vote.
The Speaker said his casting vote, in line with precedent, was with the Noes, so the amendment was defeated by 311 to 310. This means MPs will no longer have control of the Commons order paper.
The last time there was thought to have been a tied vote was in July 1993 when MPs voted 317 for and 317 against an amendment relating to the Maastricht Treaty. The Speaker at the time, Betty Boothroyd, was given a casting vote, but the next day it was found there had been a counting error and the result had not actually been a tie.
Before that, in January 1980, MPs were split 201 in favour and 201 against a motion on bringing TV cameras into the Commons.
n MPs, campaigners and activists must tone down their rhetoric on Brexit or they could incite disorder, the leader of the National Police Chiefs Council suggested yesterday.
Martin Hewitt spoke out as it was revealed that police are preparing to mobilise more than 10,000 officers in the event of riots and looting after Brexit.
Mr Hewitt, a Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, said: ‘We are in an incredibly febrile atmosphere. There is a lot of angry talk… across social media.’
He used his first speech as chairman of the NPCC to caution all groups, including MPs and public figures, to ‘use moderation’.
‘If you are in a position where you know you are going to be listened to, you need to think very carefully about the language you are using so that it does not end up with consequences that were not intended.’
‘An unbelievable shambles’
Rebel: Yvette Cooper addresses MPs in the Commons yesterday