THE LABOUR, Tory, LibDem, SNP alliance of pro-EU MPs yesterday afternoon delivered another blow on behalf of the European Union against the 2016 referendum result. They voted by 308 to 297 votes for a Dominic Grieve amendment that will require the PM to report back to parliament within three days after the expected defeat of her EU plan on January 15th.
The intention is that the House of Commons will take charge of the Brexit issue, reject or amend any May plan B, and then vote for a second referendum or simply to remain in the EU. PM May had launched a desperate push yesterday morning to try to convince her own MPs to back her Brexit deal as the House of Commons began five days of debate on it.
However her ‘new’ proposals on the ‘backstop’ in Northern Ireland were immediately rejected by her former DUP ‘allies’, because they have no legal standing. Tory MPs, headed by former Tory ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, helped inflict a defeat on the May government on Tuesday evening by passing Amendment 7 moved by Labour’s Yvette Cooper. This aimed at preventing a ‘no deal’ Brexit, in order to remain in the EU.
Leading Tories and Labourites are now part of an unofficial cross-party alliance of MPs determined to bin the 2016 referendum result. Moving Amendment 7 on Tuesday evening Cooper said of it: ‘It simply requires the government to get Parliament’s permission to pursue No Deal.’
After its success Grieve tabled another amendment for the start of the five-day debate after unexpectedly getting the go-ahead from the Speaker to do so.
The amendment requires the government, if its deal is voted down, to return to parliament with its Plan B within three days.
MPs then plan to put parliment in charge of Brexit by amending any May plan B, replacing it with either a second referendum or a motion to remain in the EU. Yesterday Labour leader Corbyn, presumably worried about the close attachment that his right wingers are developing with the ‘Remain’ Tories made an unexpected call for a general election.
He said during his Wednesday questions duel with May: ‘If her deal is defeated next week as I hope and expect it will, will the Prime Minister do the right thing and let the people have a real say and call a general election!’
Speaker Bercow also came under fire for allowing the vote on the Grieve amendment.
The Speaker said it was, in his view, reasonable for MPs to want to amend a Business of the House motion. It might be against precedent, but, he added, things change.
Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said he had previously asked clerks if business motions could be amended and ‘was told categorically that it is not possible’. He asked whether the instruction will go to the clerks that in future a backbencher willing to amend a motion will be allowed to do so. The Speaker said he would like to reflect on that matter.
The Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom asked for confirmation that the Speaker’s ruling followed the advice of the Commons Clerk. Leadsom wanted the advice published, and the Speaker’s answer that the advice is given in private attracted a gale of derision.