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Huge blow for Boris Johnson as MPs take control of Commons

Image credit: PA

Huge blow for Boris Johnson as MPs take control of Commons

Boris Johnson has suffered the first defeat of his premiership as MPs vote to seize control of the Commons timetable to block a no-deal Brexit.

The government was comfortably beaten by 328 votes to 301 following an emergency debate paving the way for a law forcing the prime minister to seek an extension to the 31 October Article 50 deadline.

Some 21 Tory MPs joined forces with the opposition parties to inflict the humiliating defeat - a move which means they will lose the party whip and be banned from standing as candidates at the next election.

They included former Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart, as well as party grandee Ken Clarke.

That election could come as soon as 14 October, with MPs voting on Wednesday on Mr Johnson's bid to hold a snap poll in the hope of winning a majority and delivering Brexit by Halloween.

Speaking after the vote, Boris Johnson said: "Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal that we might be able to strike with Brussels.

"This bill would hand control of negotiations to the EU and that would mean more dither, more delay and more confusion. And it would be up to the EU themselves to decide how long to keep this country in the EU.

"Since I refuse to go along with that plan we are going to have to make a choice, I don’t want to have an election, the public don’t want an election, I don’t believe (Jeremy Corbyn) wants an election.

"If the House votes for this bill tomorrow the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on 17 October to sort this out and take this country forward. Everybody knows that if the right honourable gentleman is the prime minister, he will go to Brussels and beg for an extension, he will accept whatever Brussels demands and we will have years more arguments over Brexit.

"By contrast, everyone knows that if this government is in charge and I go to Brussels, I believe I will get a deal and we will leave anyway even if we don't on 31 October.

"The leader of the opposition has been begging for an election for two years. I don't want an election, but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop negotiations and to compel another delay to Brexit, potentially for years, then that would be the only way to resolve this."

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn indicated that his MPs will be ordered to vote against a snap election until the bill blocking no-deal is passed.

He said: "prime ministers govern with the consent of the House of Commons, representing the people in whom the sovereignty rests. There is no consent in this House to leave the European Union without a deal, there is no majority for no-deal in the country.

"If the prime minister has the confidence in his Brexit policy, he should put it before the people in a public vote. He wants to table a motion for a general election. Fine, get the bill through first in order to take no-deal off the table."

Read the most recent article written by Kevin Schofield - Rishi Sunak unveils £9bn scheme to help self-employed survive coronavirus outbreak

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