Cooper Amendment Defeated 321 to 298

Yvette Cooper’s amendment trying to seize control of Parliament has been defeated by 321 to 298. A surprisingly comfortable majority of 23…

17 Tories rebelled, defying their manifesto commitments to Brexit voting in favour of giving a Labour MP control rather than their own party’s government – Heidi Allen, Guto Bebb, Nick Boles, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, George Freeman, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Sam Gyimah, Phillip Lee, Oliver Letwin, Antoinette Sandbach, Nicholas Soames, Anna Soubry, John Stevenson, Ed Vaizey, Sarah Wollaston.

However there were 14 Labour MPs who also rebelled to vote against the Cooper amendment – Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Rosie Cooper, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Roger Godsiff, Stephen Hepburn, Kate Hoey, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, Laura Smith, Gareth Snell, Graham Stringer – as well as now independent Frank Field and Kelvin Hopkins.

11 further Labour MPs abstained on the motion – Tracy Brabin, Judith Cummins, Gloria De Piero, Yvonne Fovargue, Mike Kane, Emma Lewell-Buck, Jim McMahon, Melanie Onn, Ruth Smeeth, John Spellar and Stephen Twigg.

The 226 Labour MPs who defied their constituents and manifesto promise were:

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Dominic Grieve’s Amendment Defeated 321 to 301

Bitter Anna Soubry Heckles Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan intervened on Theresa May’s opening speech to confirm the “surprising” news that Tory Remainers and Leavers had formed an unlikely alliance around the ‘Malthouse Compromise’.

One MP who obviously didn’t have much to offer the constructive cross-partisan discussions was Anna Soubry, who was caught grumbling loudly “would have been nice to have been told that” as Morgan spoke. Given that she’s doing everything she can to derail Brexit altogether, Guido isn’t really sure why she’s surprised to be left out. How times have changed…

Bercow Selects Graham Brady’s Amendment

After much speculation as to whether he would choose to deliberately ignore it, John Bercow has decided to call Graham Brady’s amendment on modifying the Irish backstop, as well as all the other major amendments that were expected including Yvette Cooper’s Brexit blocker. Even Bercow didn’t have the temerity not to call such a pivotal amendment – and one with Government support…

This is the order the amendments will be voted on, starting at 7pm:

  • (a) Jeremy Corbyn – calls on the PM to rule out no deal while, predictably, keeping all options on the table
  • (o) Ian Blackford – notes that the SNP don’t like Brexit, calls for no deal to be ruled out and Article 50 extended
  • (g) Dominic Grieve – suspends normal Parliamentary procedure on six dates in February and March allowing MPs to hijack Brexit
  • (b) Yvette Cooper – suspends normal Parliamentary procedure on 5th February to allow MPs to bring a Brexit-blocking Bill in
  • (j) Rachel Reeves – calls on the PM to seek an extension to Article 50
  • (i) Caroline Spelman – notes that Parliament rejects leaving without a deal
  • (n) Graham Brady – calls for the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border

Labour have so far indicated that they will back Grieve, Reeves and Spelman as well as Cooper. All of which are aimed at delaying and frustrating Brexit, the People’s Vote are even running sponsored ads on Twitter promoting them…

However, of all the amendments, only Grieve and Cooper have any legal effect as they would actively change the Standing Orders of the House, upending centuries of precedent. All the others, including Brady, are only statements of the Commons’ preferences. Brexiteers are not committing to back May’s deal by voting for Brady, but they will be bolstering the country’s negotiating position…

Corbyn Backs Brexit-Blocking Cooper Amendment

The BBC’s Laura K has confirmed that Labour will be officially backing the Yvette Cooper amendment which would tear up the rules of Parliament and allow backbench MPs to bring in a Bill to block Brexit from happening in March. Hardline Remainers trying to reverse Brexit will be delighted. How will Labour’s Brexit-supporting voters feel about it?

Chris Williamson’s Shameful Venezuelan Statement

Chris Williamson stood up in the chamber to claim that “the truth is millions support the Maduro Government.” He’s probably right, just most of those millions are wealthy Trotskyist Westerners like him who have never had to endure socialist oppression…

Dominic Grieve’s Slippery Letter to MPs

Dominic Grieve has been spamming MPs with a letter trying to convince them to back his amendment (g) tomorrow, which would suspend Parliament’s Standing Orders every Tuesday from 12th February until the end of March. Giving Grieve and his cronies free rein to disrupt Brexit on a weekly basis with Bercow’s assistance…

Naturally Grieve adopts his avuncular ‘impartial defender of the constitution’ persona in the letter, while using misleading arguments to justify doing the complete opposite. Grieve writes that the amendment “presupposes no specific outcome to the debates it would help initiate”. Yet Grieve himself personally tabled two Bills calling for a second referendum just two weeks ago…

Grieve claims that “Government control over the Order Paper is not an ancient constitutional principle, but the product of 20th Century Standing Orders.” Grieve is wilfully misinformed on this point – as the literature states it is in fact a centuries old convention, with origins dating back to 1811…

Grieve was claiming last week that his amendment wouldn’t be used to force through minority legislation such as Yvette Cooper’s Bill to delay Brexit. In today’s letter he specifically says that his amendment will give MPs further chances to get Cooper’s Bill through if it “fails for any reason to reach the statute book”…

The ongoing mystery about Dominic Grieve is how his softly-spoken manner and well-crafted sophistry continue to trick MPs into taking his arguments at face value when he has overtly been front and centre of the efforts to reverse Brexit altogether for months. Any MPs who truly believe they have a duty to respect the referendum result are simply kidding themselves if they get taken in by him again…

“It’s A Wig!”: Cruel Tory MPs Poke Fun at Fabbers

Michael Fabricant was on his feet championing the West Midlands economy at PMQs again – little did he know that right behind him fellow Tory MPs Kelly Tolhurst and Huw Merriman were making fun of his hair. No doubt fabulous Fabbers will take it in his stride…

h/t Darren Grimes

Peter Bone Asks For Government Job

“I’ve heard some job applications in my time but that was quite an interesting one…”

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Q1 Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con)
Q2 Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire) (Con)
Q3 Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con)
Q4 Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
Q5 Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
Q6 Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab)
Q7 Gillian Keegan (Chichester) (Con)
Q8 Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) (Lab)
Q9 Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab)
Q10 Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire) (Con)
Q11 Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) What recent assessment she has made of the prospects for the economy in the West Midlands; and if she will make a statement. (Con)
Q12 Rachel Maclean (Redditch) (Con)
Q13 Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab)
Q14 Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)

Comments in the comments…

Andrew Murrison Re-Tables Time Limited Backstop Amendment

As expected, Tory backbencher Andrew Murrison has re-tabled his amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement which would demand a time limit on the backstop. His amendment simply reads: <At end add: ‘but insists on an expiry date to the backstop.’> May’s Plan A for ‘Plan B’ now looks to be convincing her MPs to back this amended version of the deal…

While the EU is doing its best to maintain unity in public, concerns about the backstop derailing the whole negotiation are clearly bubbling away under the surface – Poland wobbled yesterday while the EU have skewered the Irish Government today by saying for the first time that they would demand a hard border if there is no deal. EU divisions are only going to get worse as 29th March approaches…

How MPs are Plotting to Stop Brexit

Despite the second ‘meaningful vote’ not being for another week, scheming MPs have been getting their anti-Brexit amendments in early. The following amendments are all already tabled, although they may change between now and next week:

  • Corbyn: “all options on the table” amendment. Corbyn continues his vague policy towards Brexit with an amendment calling for the Government to give time for Parliament to vote on options aimed at preventing no deal, including a Labour-style “strong single market” deal or “legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons”. Heavily-qualified support for a second referendum that likely wouldn’t be binding on the Government in any case…
  • Cooper, Boles, Morgan, Grieve: “coup” amendment. Seeks to give an entirely arbitrary grouping of backbench MPs the power to take over the Parliamentary timetable and bring in a Bill that would force the Government to extend Article 50 if a deal is not agreed by the end of February. Literally a coup…
  • Benn: “indicative votes” amendment. Commits the Government to holding a series of so-called “indicative votes” – MPs would hold non-binding votes on a range of different Brexit scenarios. Likely generating more heat than light…
  • Grieve: “endless debates” amendment. Somewhat similar but more tedious, this attempts to create a slot for weekly six-and-a-half hour debates for MPs to debate a meaningless motion while adding their own amendments to it. The most pernicious aspects allowing a minority of 300 MPs to take over Parliamentary business have been removed. Grieve claims the debates won’t be used to try to force primary legislation through…
  • Reeves, Benn, Grieve: “two-year extension” amendment. Attempts to force the Government to seek a two-year extension to Article 50 if no deal is agreed by 26th February. Not going to happen, not least because the EU won’t agree…
  • Creasy, Nandy: “citizens’ assembly” amendment. Extends Article 50 and creates a “citizens’ assembly” of 250 people along with an “expert committee” appointed by Sarah Wollaston’s Liaison Committee to advise the Government how to proceed. Very Green Party…

The one amendment which hasn’t yet been tabled but could also be highly significant is some variation of Andrew Murrison’s from last week which Bercow refused to call. This is looking like the most likely route for the Government to try to get its own MPs and the DUP back onside by voting through the Withdrawal Agreement but only on the condition that the backstop is time limited. Would give the EU some tough choices to make…

May Does Not Rule Out Article 50 Extension

This will unnerve Brexiteers…

May Ducks Boris and Nigel’s Questions

Theresa May ducked the opportunity to respond to both Boris Johnson and Nigel Dodds’ questions, as to whether there will be changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement. May’s responses are typically non-committal… 

“There are a number of options”

If there are no legal changes, May can expect a similar result second time round…

Government Entitled to Ask Queen Not to Give Assent to Brexit Wreckers’ Bills

Devastating argument from Policy Exchange this morning. Sir Stephen Laws QC – who was until 2012 the Government’s most senior lawyer on legislative and constitutional matters – says don’t assume that MPs could engineer a change to the law to postpone or cancel Brexit without persuading Government to acquiesce and participate in securing the change.

Attempting to change the law without the Government’s participation, he argues, could jeopardise fundamental constitutional principles based on centuries of history, especially if the Speaker dispenses with or ignores a rule that gives Government complete control over increases to public expenditure.

Sir Stephen Writes:

“If the Speaker chose to allow this rule to be dispensed with or ignored, that could have unpredictable, and potentially horrific, constitutional consequences. It could raise a question whether the Government would be entitled or might feel required to reassert its constitutional veto by advising the Queen not to grant Royal Assent to the Bill.

How should the Monarch react to such advice? The answer is not straightforward and the prospect of it needing to be considered in a real life political crisis is unthinkably awful. It is a sacred duty of all UK politicians not to involve the Monarch in politics. They have a constitutional responsibility to resolve difficulties between themselves in accordance with the rules, and so as not to call on the ultimate referee.”

If the Speaker and Dominic Grieve are going to vandalise the constitution and overturn established parliamentary conventions, don’t expect the government to just roll over. The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will be studying this argument closely as no doubt will the Brexit sympathetic Queen. Bercow is only the Prince of Parliament, though he might not want to believe, the Queen still outranks him constitutionally. Grieve isn’t as clever as he thinks he is…

Grieve’s Minority Coup D’etat

Alex Wickham has scooped the Sundays by getting hold of Grieve’s Proposed Amendment to let a minority take control of the parliamentary legislative agenda:

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 1 TO SECTION 13(6) MOTION

As an Amendment to the Motion tabled for the purposes of section 13(6) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2017
Leave out from “House” to end and insert “believes that [INSERT DECLARATORY WORDS RELATING TO NEED TO PREVENT NO DEAL BREXIT), and orders accordingly that — (1) On [DATE OF SUBSEQUENT SITTING DAY TO BE INSERTED] —

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting sa. as provided in that order) shall (subject to paragraph (e)) not apply;
(b) a Motion in connection with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in the name of at least 300 Members of the House elected to the House as members of at least five parties and including at least 10 Members elected to the House as members of the party in Government shall stand as the first item of business;
(c) that motion may be proceeded with at any hour though opposed, shall not be interrupted at the moment of interruption, and, if under discussion when business is postponed under the provisions of any standing order, may be returned, though opposed, after the interruption of business; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) will not apply;
(d) at the conclusion of debate on that motion, the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that motion (including for the purposes of Standing Order No. 36(2) (questions to be put following closure of debate)) shall include the questions on any amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; and
(e) but if no motion which meets the requirements of paragraph (b) is tabled by 6.00 pm on [DATE PRIOR TO INTENDED DATE OF DEBATE), the provisions of paragraphs (a) to (d) shall not apply”

If his amendment passes a minority of 300 MPs across five parties – with only 10 Tories needed – would be able to control the parliamentary agenda. Effectively creating a minority opposition controlled legislature.

It is possible that this draft might be a ruse, so that it looks more like a reasonable compromise when they go for a straight majority in parliament taking control of legislative agenda from government. This is all designed to stop Brexit happening on March 29th without a deal in place. It is a coup against the expressed will of the people…

When Dawn Pulled Jez

Corbyn’s no confidence motion didn’t go to plan for him in more ways than one yesterday, while taking beatings from Tory Remainers and even one of his own former MPs, Dawn Butler felt the need to tug him off the dispatch box, and back to his seat when he forgot to sit down. Weird…

Leadsom Outwits Bercow and Grieve on Brexit ‘Plan B’

Dominic Grieve and John Bercow’s attempts to force the Government into a corner have fallen flat thanks to a loophole which allows the Government to avoid another humiliating defeat just three (working) days after the last one. Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the Government would lay its motion on its Brexit ‘next steps’ on Monday as required by Grieve’s rogue amendment, but that the debate and vote on it would not be held until the following Tuesday 29th. Backbenchers who have worked with Grieve on amendments before privately whisper that his drafting skills are not as tight as they are made out to be…

Leadsom also announced that the Government would not be bringing any more Brexit legislation back to the Commons for the foreseeable future, including the Trade Bill and the Immigration Bill. No legislation, nothing for Remainers to attach hostile amendments to…

Michael Gove’s Barnstorming Speech

Michael Gove closed the case for the Government last night with an absolute cracker of a speech. It is well worth a watch…

Government Wins Confidence Vote

In not so shocking news, Her Majesty’s Government remains in place (for now) after winning Jeremy Corbyn’s confidence vote by 306-325. Nothing has changed…

[…] Read the rest “Government Wins Confidence Vote”

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Quote of the Day

Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today

“He’s made his views on Brexit on the record, and the problem with that of course is that the chair’s impartiality is absolutely essential. … He’s made his views known on Brexit… it’s a matter for him but nevertheless it’s a challenge and all colleagues need to form their own view of that.”

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