Last night, September 4th, the European (Withdrawal) (no 6) Bill sailed through the House of Commons with MPs voting 327 to 299. As explained in yesterday’s update, the Bill forces the Prime Minister to seek to extend Article 50 until the 31st of January, unless a withdrawal agreement or leaving without a deal has been agreed.
The Prime Minister responded to this by seeking a snap general election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA). However, I and other opposition party members were not prepared to be lured into voting for an early General Election which would primarily serve to facilitate a No Deal Brexit.
Under FTPA, the Prime Minister has the power to select the date of the General Election. If he were to choose a date after the 31st of October, Parliament would be in Purdah (suspended) during the run up to Brexit. Essentially, this means we would crash out of the EU with No Deal as this is still currently the legal default.
As such, I and colleagues will continue to refuse to vote for a General Election while there remains a risk that the UK could crash out of the EU with No Deal. We are very aware of the trap that the Prime Minister is trying to set for us.
Following the approval of the Commons, the European (Withdrawal) (no 6) Bill progressed onto the House of Lords. As I type this on Thursday evening, the Bill has successfully passed second reading. All things going well, we expect it to have completed all stages in the Lords by 17:00 on Friday. It will then be returned to the Commons on Monday, September 9th, for MPs to consider any amendments.
Having learnt that the Government has tabled another motion to try yet again to secure a General Election on Monday, there may well be some tension between what comes first – that motion or Royal Assent of the Bill. I will update again on Monday but in the meantime, please be assured I will continue to work cross party to ensure we plan for every eventuality, remain alert to the risks and remove all risks of a No Deal Brexit.