Brexit bill passed but timetable given red light

The government’s Withdrawal Agreement has made it through the House of Commons but the prime minister’s timetable for the nation’s departure from the European Union has been narrowly rejected 

Members of Parliament passed the government’s Brexit bill through the Commons at second reading this evening, in a crunch vote held to decide whether the United Kingdom will leave the EU on the terms of the prime minister’s deal.

But MPs also voted to reject the government’s timetable for the bill which prime minister Boris Johnson had put to the House.

The result for the vote on the bill was as follows:

Ayes: 329 – Noes: 299 – Majority: 30

For Mr Johnson’s timetable, the result was as follows:

Ayes: 308 – Noes: 322 – Majority: 14

Mr Johnson was confident that the Commons would back his bill and had been urging MPs since Saturday to get his deal “over the line”.

It is still the Conservative government’s aim to have the UK leave the EU on Halloween.

However, that now looks extremely unlikely.

The UK leaves the EU without a deal and falls back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if Mr Johnson cannot get his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) through before October 31.

That is the legal default position according to Article 50.

But the so-called “Benn Act” changed all that.

MPs voted for the Benn Act back in September.

It obliges the prime minister to request a three-month extension to Article 50 if no deal has been passed by the official Brexit deadline.

Following the votes on the bill and the timetable, Mr Johnson said:

“Mr Speaker, how welcome it is – even joyful – that for the first time in this long saga this House has accepted its responsibilities together, come together, and embraced a deal …we should not overlook the significance of this moment.

But Mr Speaker I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than for a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK is in a position to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal.”

He also said that the government would now be “accelerating” its “preparations for a no-deal outcome” and that until EU member states “reach a decision” on whether to grant an extension, the legislation would be “paused”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the decision of the House to delay the Brexit timetable and said:

“The prime minister is the author of his own misfortune. So, I make this offer to him tonight. Work with us – all of us – to agree a reasonable timetable and I suspect this House will vote to debate, scrutinise and I hope amend the detail of this bill. That would be the sensible way forward and that is the offer I make on behalf of the opposition tonight.”

MPs from both sides of the Brexit debate took to Twitter to claim victory for their own side and accused the other of being impractical.

The People’s Vote campaign – who are particularly active across London – also took to Twitter after the vote to claim that Parliament had secured a chance to give his Brexit bill proper scrutiny.

The UK capital is a heavily pro-Remain city.

London voted to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum by 59.93% to 40.07% – or 2,263,519 votes to 1,513,232 votes; a difference of 750,287.

In many of the 32 London boroughs the results were extremely tight, as they were across the UK.

Only five of the 32 London boroughs voted to leave the EU. They were:

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

London Borough of Bexley

London Borough of Havering

London Borough of Hillingdon

London Borough of Sutton

And in the EU Parliament election back in May this year, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won in only four boroughs in the capital. They were:

London Borough of Bexley

London Borough of Bromley

London Borough of Havering

London Borough of Hillingdon

In that election, the Liberal Democrats won a majority of London constituencies winning 16 boroughs, with Labour coming in second place with 13.

Greater London MPs on opposing sides of the Brexit debate also took to Twitter to voice their views on what happened in Parliament tonight.

They included Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative, Chingford):

Tulip Siddiq (Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn)

Conclusions of proceedings on the WAB had been scheduled to take place in the Commons on Thursday October 24.

Words: Scott Mathew | Subbing: Michelle Del Rey | Featured image credit: Parliament.uk

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