House of Lords Red Benches (CC-BY-3.0)

Reports are coming out that the House of Lords is gearing up to stay open over the week-end before parliament is prorogued, in order to get a law through to extend the Article 50 process.

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ITV political correspondent, Paul Brand, Tweeted out earlier today that:

"Senior source in the Lords confident that they can get a bill through to prevent No Deal by Monday, even with filibustering from govt. Chamber may sit through the night Friday into Saturday, or even on the weekend."

Now, the House of Lords of course, cannot do this on its own. It requires something to be kick-started in the House of Commons first.

And to kickstart it, the Remainer MPs have to have some sort of legislative hook on which to hang their collective anti-Brexit coat.

They need a way of starting the process of getting a bill through both Houses of Parliament to Royal Assent before Parliament is shut down by prorogation as early as on Monday the 9th of September.

And having got back from summer holidays on Tuesday the 3rd of September, they only have a handful of working days to do it.

Now, if they were able to get a bill going say on the Wednesday or Thursday, then they could get the whole House of Commons procedures out of the way in just about a single day. But the House of Lords would need longer as they have different rules.

Hence why preparations are being made to keep the Lords open over the weekend.

So, once any draft Brexit busting bill has made its way to the House of Lords by say Friday, our peers of the realm can then pay lip service to their timetable restrictions and steamroller it through.

Then on Monday, just before prorogation it goes to the Commons for final sign off before Royal Assent.

Well, that, I think, is the sort of plan.

But before any of that can happen Remainer MPs need to get that legislative hook.

This would be some substantive motion put forward by the government that they can amend, or if they can somehow get a back bench bill on to the order of business. But getting motions moved to debate is a government function.

Now the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg is unlikely to allow the government to make the mistake of tabling a substantive motion, nor to allow a back bench motion to be debated, if he can possibly avoid it. That would be a biggest ever political Ooops!

But – there is the Emergency Debate procedure under the House of Commons Standing Order number 24.

A Remainer MP would apply to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, for time to make a speech on why an emergency debate should be held.

The emergency debate must relate to an urgent, important and specific event.

If granted by Bercow, then the MP would probably make the three minute speech on that same day and the the three hour debate may be heard later that day, or the day after.

And MPs vote on it at the end.

Now, these debates are just that debates. And the vote is normally just that they have debated the matter – nothing more.

So the motion to hold the debate would be what's called neutral and un-amendable, taking the form of:

"That the House has considered the matter of the repercussions of a no deal Brexit" for example, or something like that.

So the resulting vote of whether or not they had considered the matter would not normally be a problem for the government.

But John Bercow has been stung and stung hard by this prorogation of parliament.

And he says he sees his job as ensuring that the voice of the House of Commons is heard. He also has the added ammunition that the government has the slimmest majority of just one and a tenuous majority at that.

And also remember that his decision is law on procedural matters in the House.

On this, writing for global-counsel.co.uk, which is chaired by Peter Mandelson by the way, Joe Armitage said:

"Ordinarily, motions associated with an emergency debate are on neutral terms and therefore unamendable, but the speaker has already indicated that he would be prepared to break precedent to make it a substantive motion, which would then make it amendable. This motion could then be used to legislate, à la the Cooper-Letwin bill."

So this may be the reason, or one of the reasons, that the House of Lords is clearing the decks for action.

It really is now parliament against the people, isn't it?

Sources:

https://beta.parliament.uk/collections/faFyJj1W

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmstords/0002/body.htm#24

https://www.global-counsel.co.uk/blog/british-parliament-can-stop-prime-minister-boris-johnson-achieving-no-deal-brexit

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