Sunday 13 October 2019

Law to prevent 'no deal' moves closer as bill squeaks through by one vote

Debate: Labour MP Yvette Cooper brought the bill seeking to rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Debate: Labour MP Yvette Cooper brought the bill seeking to rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Andrew Woodcock and Peter Wheeler

Proposals to further delay the date of Brexit have moved closer to becoming law after they squeaked through the Commons by one vote.

MPs last night supported the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Bill at third reading by 313 votes to 312.

The draft legislation, tabled by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, requires Prime Minister Theresa May to table a motion seeking MPs' approval for an extension to the Article 50 process beyond April 12 to a date of her choosing. It is part of a parliamentary bid to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU.

Tory Brexiteers strongly opposed the measures and, shortly before the final vote, they expressed their frustration at the Bill clearing all stages in the Commons in a matter of hours.

But there were cheers in the chamber when the result was revealed at almost 11.30pm, after the legislation passed through all stages in the Commons in a single day.

Speaking after the result Ms Cooper said it has been a "very considered and thoughtful debate throughout", and that MPs had "voted again to make clear the real concerns that there would be about a chaotic and damaging no deal".

But leading Brexiteer Tory MP Mark Francois reacted to the Bill's passing with anger, calling it a "constitutional outrage".

The leading Brexiteer said it had been "rammed through in four hours", and then quoting from the bible, added: "The public won't be impressed by this. Forgive them father they know not what they do."

The Bill could now go for final approvalin the House of Lords as early as today.

Meanwhile, talks on a possible compromise Brexit deal are to continue today after a meeting between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn which the Labour leader described as "useful but inconclusive".

The British Labour leader reiterated his view that another referendum should be held to prevent either a no-deal Brexit or a bad deal but he said no "red lines in the future" on any potential agreement he might reach with the prime minister were discussed.

The meeting sparked fury among some Conservatives, with two ministers quitting Mrs May's government and a string of backbenchers voicing their anger in the House of Commons.

Wales minister Nigel Adams denounced the decision to meet Mr Corbyn as a "grave error" as he announced his resignation from the government. And Chris Heaton-Harris quit the Department for Exiting the EU, with a warning that Mrs May was being badly advised over the risks of no-deal.

Following lengthy talks with Mrs May, Mr Corbyn said: "I want the government to understand that the House does not support the deal that she has agreed."

Irish Independent

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