Labour-driven proposal to block a no-deal Brexit from the bloc has been thwarted by the UK’s Parliament in a vote on June 12th.
Brexiteer candidates hopeful of securing the position as prime minister have been propped up after a Labour initiative to pass a bill which would essentially prevent the UK from leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31st, had been defeated by 309 votes to 298 on Wednesday 12th of June, 2019.
After the results of the votes had been announced in Parliament, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voiced his discontent amongst the cacophony of Conservative MP cheering saying: “You won’t be cheering in September.” The Labour party has made it clear it will not halt in its efforts to hinder a no-deal Brexit but the recent defeat in a Parliamentary vote has cast a shadow on that prospect.
In an interview with Channel 4 News, when asked what the repercussions of the defeated Labour-led vote would be, Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary MP said: “Well it is obviously disappointing, it was a very important motion today because what we were trying to do is to prevent any incoming prime minister from taking us out of the EU without a deal without the consent of Parliament for that, or even worse closing down Parliament, proroguing and not letting us have a say. So, we’ve got to regroup, this was the first opportunity not the last. We will not pull back from using any mechanism to stop us crashing out without a deal.”
To watch the full interview click here.
The Conservative MP Boris Johnson launched his leadership campaign on June 12th announcing that “now is the time to unite this country and unite this society. We cannot begin that task until we have delivered on the primary request of the people, the big thing that they asked us to do. After 3 years and 2 missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31st. We must do better than the current withdrawal agreement that has been rejected 3 times by Parliament and let me clear that I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome. I don’t think that we will end up with any such thing, but it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously for no-deal, indeed it is astonishing that anyone could suggest dispensing with that vital tool of negotiation.”
Click here to view Johnson’s official Conservative Party leadership campaign.
It is perhaps unclear as to what the outcome of Brexit will be but Boris Johnson seems determined to deliver on the result of the June 2016 referendum vote by the end of October. A total of 8 members of Parliament for the Labour Party voted against their own party’s bill along with 13 other Labour MPs who refrained from casting their vote, probably in protest but to the detriment of the Labour Party. On the other hand, around 10 MPs from the Conservative Party voted for the bill to ban no-deal from the Brexit equation.
The Conservative MP Rory Stewart, one of the leadership candidates commented on Boris Johnson as the potential UK Prime Minister:
“I’m afraid to say that the Boris now, campaigning for a no-deal Brexit, and that’s basically what he’s doing he’s saying he can renegotiate by the 31st of October but he knows that there’s no way you’re going to get a different deal out of Europe; so basically he’s saying he’s trying to leave on no-deal on the 31st of October, he’s promising something he can’t deliver and will alienate the entire center ground of this country and if he were to pull it off I think there will be deep economic harm.”
Click here to watch the full interview.
Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP for Beaconsfield, said he would be more than happy to hand in his resignation and vote against the Conservative Government if it would guarantee that no-deal is stripped away from the possible outcomes of Brexit. “Throughout this whole unhappy business of Brexit what I have certainly tried to do is to try to ensure that there is a process which avoids chaos. Even if it means me resigning the whip and leaving the party. I will not allow this country to be taken out of the EU on a no-deal Brexit without the approval of this House and in my view going back to the country and asking them if that is what they want.”
Click here to watch Grieve’s statement in the House of Commons.
The cross-party motion to try and barricade against the possibility of a no-deal Brexit has been considered by some as a rushed desperate attempt to introduce legislation that would take no-deal off the negotiating table before a new prime minister is elected.
Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, raised his concerns with Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposal as he claimed the 31st of October deadline does not warrant enough time for a decision to be made and implemented. To secure a majority vote on a withdrawal deal through Parliament has proven difficult as seen with former PM Theresa May’s attempts. “A prime minister who ignores Parliament cannot expect to survive very long. The European Union will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, I’m quite clear about that. Even if some people wanted to in Brussels, they wouldn’t be able to because of their own political fragility. The fragility of their coalition of 27, but there is also a contradiction between saying that we are going to leave on the 31st of October, and we should try to renegotiate yet again with the European Commission. There simply isn’t going to be time. There actually isn’t going to be a commission to negotiate with until towards the end of October.” Said Philip Hammond in an interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr.
With the defeat of the Labour-led vote to abolish no-deal from the Brexit process what are the implications?
For the time being a majority in Parliament against a no-deal Brexit does not exist, especially after members of the Labour Party voted against the bill which was driven forward by the Labour Party itself. However, some have argued that it is near impossible to convince Remainer Conservative MPs to vote for a bill that is lead by Jeremy Corbyn.
On the other hand, the fact that the Conservative leadership campaigns have begun does not seem to have favoured the motion because some Tory MPs may believe that the new Conservative leader ought to have the opportunity to put their Brexit proposal forward without pre-existing restrictions.
As polarized opinions from Parliament whizz around, the outcome of Brexit is still very uncertain. Boris Johnson said he does not aim for a no-deal Brexit but will not rule it out, as he plans to try and renegotiate with the European Commission; whereas, Philip Hammond suggests that the October 31st deadline does not allow for a deal to be made in time and that Parliament would never accept a no-deal Brexit scenario, and also Dominic Grieve asserted that he would prorogue the Government in the event of no-deal.
Ultimately the question that needs to be asked is should the UK Government be prorogued will that bring about a resolution to the Brexit deadlock or could it make matters worse?
Make UK’s Chief Economist, Seamus Nevin during discussions with the Exiting the European Union Committee warned that a no-deal Brexit would be “economic vandalism” as he told the committee on June 12th. “We know from direct reports from members that they have had customers overseas not just in the EU but as far away as Japan and Korea, because we trade with these countries via the benefits of EU free trade agreements and those firms in those countries are now looking to move their business elsewhere and looking to source goods that they have traditionally bought from the UK from other countries because of politicians talking about a no-deal Brexit. We want the no-deal Brexit taken off as an option as it is an act of economic vandalism.”
The UK’s manufacturing sector has cautioned that merely the prospect of a no-deal Brexit has the potential of causing long term damage to Britain’s economy because of businesses losing the benefits of EU free trade deals and disruptions due to lengthy customs checks especially when it comes to food and drink moving through the ports.
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