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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Labour disarray hands moral victory to hardline Brexiteers

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A cross-party attempt to stop a no-deal Brexit failed yesterday, handing a moral victory to hardline Brexiteers, who want us to crash out of Europe without a deal on 31 October.

The motion proposed giving MPs control of the parliamentary agenda in a fortnight’s time. That day could then have been used to begin legislation to prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal, though it is uncertain what form this would take.

However, despite Labour spearheading the move, it was their ill-discipline that saw it defeated. Eight Labour MPs including Caroline Flint, John Mann and Graham Stringer voted with the government against the motion and 13 more abstained. Ten Conservative MPs voted with Labour. The motion failed by just 11 votes.

As the Guardian reports, the result of the vote handed a boost to Conservative leadership candidates including Boris Johnson hoping to force a “deal or no deal” Brexit in October:

The former Conservative MP Nick Boles warned opponents of a no-deal departure were fast running out of options – apart from a confidence vote to bring down the government. “No-deal Brexit on 31 October is back to being a racing certainty,” he said. “It is very hard to see where any further legislative opportunities will come from. So it’s now a question of politics – specifically whether a PM pursuing a no-deal Brexit can command and sustain the confidence of the House of Commons.”

Johnson officially launched his campaign on Wednesday saying he believed a new government “with a new mandate, a new optimism, a new determination” could leave the EU with an amended deal by 31 October. However, the leadership frontrunner warned that he was determined to leave the EU by that date, whether he had achieved a new deal or not.

“I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome, I don’t think we can end up with any such thing. But it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously,” he said.

Johnson refused to say what he would do if he had not secured an improved deal in time for 31 October – or whether he would resign if the deadline were not met or no deal was prevented.

Brexit has turned into a fiasco because for almost the whole of the last three years, Labour have been missing in action as an official opposition, determined to facilitate our exit from the EU and in doing so propping up the Tory Government.

Yesterday's vote demonstrates that when they do try and lead, they cannot get their troops behind  them. It is little wonder that the country's disillusionment with the whole process is so strong.
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