Amid continuing political turmoil at Westminster, Boris Johnson’s control of the Brexit agenda has slipped along with his parliamentary majority tonight.
A key motion to rule out a crash Brexit on October 31 passed by 328 votes to 301.
In a day of high political drama, two MPs crossed the aisle, overturning the British Prime Minister’s working majority and increasing the chances of a snap general election. Tonight 21 Tory MPs rebelled against their own party, which has for the past two years clung to power only thanks to the support of the DUP.
Johnson’s extreme right and profoundly unionist government has said it is determined to take Scotland and the north of Ireland out of the European Union on the same terms as England and Wales. That would mean border checks in Ireland and a remilitarisation of the Six Counties in what would be a devastating blow to the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement.
Following a major success tonight, an increasingly united opposition at Westminster now aims to get a Bill passed tomorrow to ensure a no-deal Brexit is off the table.
Reacting to his defeat, Johnson has confirmed he will table a motion for an election in a bid to ensure he has a free hand in Brexit negotiations. He told the Commons: “I don’t want an election but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop negotiations... then that would be the only way to resolve this” .
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the Bill must pass through all stages tomorrow before an election is called.
“Boris must be stopped from getting his election plan before we’ve secured the legislation to stop us crashing out in an election campaign,” said Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
Despite the setback tonight, it is still not certain that Johnson will allow his determination for a hard Brexit to be deflected. Senior Tory ministers in Johnson’s ‘war cabinet’ have refused to say if they will abide by new legislation at Westminster, further deepening an already grave constitutional crisis.
Last week’s unprecedented move to prorogue parliament beginning next week has already provoked multiple legal actions which are now working their way through the courts.
Amid the escalating political turmoil, Johnson is scheduled to meet 26 County Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for talks on Monday. But Sinn Fein has said that it’s clearer than ever that the British Parliament will never serve the interests of the Irish people.
MP Chris Hazzard said: “The Tory party have been circus-masters for the last number of years when it comes to Westminster.
“They have literally allowed the chaos to infiltrate every single part of the Parliament. And increasingly now we are seeing that in the entire democratic process.
“There is a paralysis falling across Westminster, nothing else but talk about Brexit and what we have seen in the last couple of weeks is what can only be described as machiavellian maneuvers by Boris Johnson and his puppet-master Dominic Cummings in the background, looking at ways in which they can force through and step aside and manipulate the democratic process and the rights and entitlements of ordinary people.”