Brexit Q&A: So the House of Commons has seized control - but what does Winston Churchill have to do with it?
Answering your questions about the latest twists and turns in the unfolding Brexit debacle.
Keep it short… what have the Brits done now?
A majority (328 to 301) of MPs in the UK House of Commons have voted to ‘seize control’ from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This means that, from 3pm today, the Government will no longer control the parliamentary agenda. Opposition parties will be able to table legislation.
What will MPs do with this newfound power?
A cross-party group intend to try pass legislation which block the UK from leaving the European Union on October 31 unless a deal has been agreed. They want Boris Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension to the deadline so that more negotiations can take place.
Didn’t Johnson say the UK was leaving at Halloween ‘do or die’?
Yes, the Prime Minister said he was taking the UK out “come what may”. He has reacted angrily to the move by MPs, expelling a number of high-profile Conservative MPs who voted against him.
So what’s the Prime Minister’s game plan?
He has warned there will be “consequences” for last night’s vote. Johnson says he will not go to Brussels seeking another delay because it would “hand control of the negotiations to the EU”. If MPs passed the bill today, he said, “the people of this country will have to choose” in an election.
That means another snap election in mid-October?
Not necessarily. The UK now operates ‘fixed-term parliaments’ of five years. In order to collapse the House of Commons, a prime minister needs a two-thirds majority. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party will not vote for an election unless and until the bill against a no-deal Brexit passes.
The main Opposition party will try to stop an election?
These truly are extraordinary times. Johnson might actually find himself boxed in. He legally won’t be able to crash-out of the EU on October 31 and he won’t be able to call an election. The shift in power is as unprecedented as it is dramatic.
What does it mean for Ireland?
There is renewed hope that a no-deal scenario can now be avoided, although it’s still not clear how. Government sources note that the House of Commons has repeatedly rejected the idea of a crash-out – even if they can’t agree on an actual way forward. Even if fresh negotiations do start, the backstop will still be a problem for the UK so it’s not over yet. Preparations for a no-deal will have to continued unabated.
What has Charles Stewart Parnell got to do with it all?
In one of the more surreal moments last night, the ghost of the Irish Home Rule leader appeared to enter the House of Commons. As the debate got heated, Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg said: "The approach taken today is the most unconstitutional use of this house since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell when he tried to bung up parliament."
And Winston Churchill?
The wartime leader is a hero of Boris Johnson but that hasn’t stopped the incumbent from removing the party whip from his grandson. MP Nicholas Soames voted to block no-deal and will now be dropped from any Conservative election ticket. He described being deselected is the "fortunes of war".