MPs clashed over the handing the government the right to dismiss parliament and control the Brexit agenda and the right for parliament to prevent no-deal by any means necessary.
Opposition MPs have lost a crucial vote on an attempt to block a future Conservative prime minister from pursuing a no-deal Brexit.
In an attempt to unite remain and soft-Brexit MPs, the Labour Party proposed a motion which would set the stage for parliament to prevent a clean break Brexit by taking over the Commons timetable on the 25th of June and give MPs parliamentary time to construct legislation restricting the future government.
The SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin were all signatories to the bill.
The cross-party bill was rejected by MPs by 309 votes to 298, destroying plans to prevent any brexiteer-led government from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was overheard rebuking MPs, saying that they “won’t be cheering in September” as they celebrated the defeat of the motion.
This comes as a cabinet note was leaked saying that the UK is not ready for a no-deal Brexit on October 31st.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, expressed his disappointment with the narrow defeat but vowed to continue efforts to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
“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.”
Despite Labour having gradually adopted a soft-Brexit policy, proposing to remain in a Customs Union and to hold a public vote on the deal if a General Election was not possible and a no-deal Brexit likely, they have lost significant votes to remain parties calling for a second referendum, such as the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.Labour sources admitted that there was concern that Tories who may be inclined to back the motion would instead remain loyal to the party line until a new leader had been chosen.
Conservative opponents of no-deal and leadership candidates, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart, revealed that they would vote against the motion.
Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and hopeful to succeed Vince Cable as leader, blasted MPs for “putting party loyalty ahead of national interest” by rejecting the bill.
Several Tory leadership candidates have been flaunting their “hard-Brexit” credentials in pursuit of the position of prime minister.
Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, and Esther McVey, the ex-work and pensions secretary, have refused to rule out suspending parliament to prevent MPs from voting down a no-deal Brexit in September. In the debate preceding the vote, Starmer claimed that MPs had been forced to act due to declared intentions by Tory leadership candidates such as Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab to prorogue parliament.
Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, labelled the bill an unacceptable “blind motion” that would give MPs a “virtually unlimited scope” to prevent no-deal.
Conservative frontrunner Boris Johnson warned that MPs face “mortal retribution” if they fail to deliver Brexit. Hinting at a potential electoral wipeout and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.
Fear within the ranks of the Conservative Party has only been exasperated following the Peterborough by election last week, where a split vote between Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the Conservatives saw a Labour victory in the leave stronghold.