Labour-led bid to seize control of Commons and block no-deal Brexit defeated

Wednesday 12th June 2019 19:30 BST

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led a cross-party effort on Wednesday to suspend parliament's rules later this month.

This would have allowed opposition MPs to bring forward legislation aimed at preventing the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement on 31 October.

Labour also planned to try and use parliamentary time on 25 June - the day on which they were seeking to wrestle the Commons timetable from government control - to prevent a future prime minister suspending parliament in order to push through a no-deal departure.

However, their plans were defeated after MPs voted against the Labour motion by 309 votes to 298.

After the result was announced, to glee from the Tory benches, Mr Corbyn was heard telling Conservative MPs: "You won't be cheering in September."

A number of those Tory hopefuls currently competing to be elected as their party's next leader - and become prime minister - have promised the UK will leave the EU on Halloween, with or without a deal.

Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has also refused to rule out proroguing parliament as a means of preventing the House of Commons blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Responding to Tuesday's "disappointing, narrow defeat", Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "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."

Eight Labour MPs, including Brexiteers and those representing Leave areas, voted against their party's motion.

Meanwhile, 10 Tory MPs rebelled against the government to vote in favour of the motion.

This was down on the 14 Conservative MPs who voted in favour of blocking a no-deal Brexit back in April.

Labour's defeat was also brought about by decision of some of the party's own MPs to skip the vote.

Labour MP Gareth Snell, who represents Leave-supporting Stoke-on-Trent Central, had earlier revealed he would abstain as he expressed his regret at having failed to vote for a Brexit deal up to now.

Mr Snell told MPs: "Three times when the opportunity presented itself to me I have not voted for a deal.

"The last time on 29 March I followed my party line that I would not support the deal that was put in front of me.

"I made a mistake, on that date I should have voted for a deal.

"I will now vote for a deal if a deal is brought forward."

Leave-supporting Tory MP David Jones, a former Brexit minister, expressed his hope that Labour's defeat would bring "an end to the parliamentary chicanery" and lead MPs to "work to deliver the Brexit that people voted for".

Earlier, Tory leadership candidate Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the Labour effort to block a no-deal Brexit showed how such a departure from the EU is "not an option" for a future prime minister.

Chancellor Philip Hammond also claimed it was "impossible" for Brexit - with or without a deal - to happen by 31 October.

And Prime Minister Theresa May warned her successor they will face the same Brexit challenges she has faced while in office.

"The parliamentary arithmetic hasn't changed," she said, adding: "Parliament as a whole will still have to come to decisions about the future, and our future relationship with the EU."

The PM had ordered her Tory MPs to vote against the Labour motion due to the "crucial principle" of the government remaining in control of the Commons agenda.

Mrs May said: "I think it's important the government is able to control the order paper and those decisions about what parliament is going to do are not handed over to Labour and the SNP."

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