House of Commons By UK Parliament 2 (CC-BY-3.0)

In their desperation and disunity, pro-EU MPs are plotting to try and seize control of the Commons order of business to force through legislation to stop the UK leaving the EU as planned.


What a messy Brexit news day this has been.

In a re-run of events last year, the anti-Brexit MPs in the House of Commons, which is most of them, are planning to use parliamentary procedure to once again take control of the Order Paper so as to pass the primary legislation required to stop the UK leaving the EU on the 31st of October.

This will be done in the name of preventing a no deal Brexit.

But it is more likely, that they plan to vote down any deal Boris that does make with the EU. Then attempt to pass laws to stop us leaving without a deal by forcing the government to request another Article 50 extension from the EU27 Council members.

But they have a couple of problems.

The first is that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters want to force an Article 50 extension for a General Election and to renegotiate a new Labour style permanent customs union Brexit deal, while the rest of them want to force an Article 50 extension for a second EU referendum.

The next problem they face, is that Brussels has made it clear that they will only countenance an Article 50 extension for something like a democratic event, i.e. a referendum or a general election. Not just for more time to prolong the status quo.

So if these pro-EU MPs do manage to take control of the Commons order paper, they need a co-ordinated plan. But what will they vote for?

They all want an Article 50 extension, but they can't just leave it at that. There has to be a purpose to it and that's where their problems start.

We could well just end up witnessing more pointless votes, where no option is able to command a majority of MPs – all while the Brexit clock ticks happily and relentlessly down.

Hence why we're hearing reports that Tory Remainer MP and former Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is leading something described as the 'Remain Alliance' with plans to go to Brussels to find out exactly what would be an acceptable reason for an Article 50 extension, as well as the terms we would have to meet and the time length on offer.

They would then know exactly what to put into the legislation they want to use to force the Prime Minister to go cap in hand to the EU27.

But there is always the danger that Jeremy Corbyn will spring a motion of no confidence on everyone. But there may not be enough pro-EU MPs who see this as a Brexit busting route, as it would only give them a two week window and also risk either having a Corbyn government or more likely forcing a post Brexit General Election.

And with Boris Johnson having returned with this supposed 30 day window to sort the Irish border backstop out and saying that getting a new deal won't be a cinch, then Tory MPs may hang back from supporting a motion of no confidence against him.

But the real problem for the anti-Brexit mob is the lack of time.

When Parliamentarians return from their summer break on Tuesday the 3rd of September, which many of them spent their time plotting on how to stop Boris, there will only be 58 days left to Brexit Day.

And that's if they sit every single day.

But normally the House only sits Monday to Thursday – that's 34 days left.

Then there's the planned recess while the party political conferences take place, which could remove another ten to a dozen days, so leaving just over twenty days to do their dirty deeds.

Now, MPs have already been writing to the PM demanding that parliament be recalled early from the long summer break they all voted to go on, and then sit permanently until Brexit Day while they engineer a way to stop it happening.

So, the first order of business for Remainer MPs when they get back in the House on the 3rd of September, could be to try and force just that – vote for parliament to sit every single day, as well as not shut down parliament for the party conferences.

It may also be that, unless Remainer MPs get firm assurances from Corbyn that he will stand aside for someone else to work towards a second EU referendum, then any immediate motion of no confidence he tables will end up being rejected.

Now, many people, including The Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, are fretting that Boris Johnson could spring a slightly modified version of the Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty on the Commons at the last minute and somehow get it through.

But it should be remembered that the Withdrawal Agreement would only be effective, if it is ratified. And under the Withdrawal Act, that requires both the Withdrawal Agreement itself and the political declaration that sets out the basis of our future relationship with the EU, to be voted through by the House of Commons as well as noted by the House of Lords. And the inability to get that political declaration through, has already been part of the downfall of Theresa May.

And to get the Treaty through, Boris would presumably have to present to the House an amendable motion to vote on.

Now, although the government could probably ignore any amendments that get a majority vote, the outcome could be embarrassing.

Remember, this would be Boris Johnson's one and only flag-ship policy.

Further, consider that Boris has a wafer thin margin in the House of Commons and is therefore in danger of losing a vote of no confidence at any time.

And if he managed to force a general election out of it, what would his and his party's chances be if he had just signed the country over to permanent EU vassalage via the Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty – however it was modified?

And he will be acutely aware of that.


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