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Brexit: Boris Johnson says parliament has 'run its course' as he opens debate on early election – live news – The Guardian, Theguardian.com

Brexit: Boris Johnson says parliament has 'run its course' as he opens debate on early election – live news – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


From the Times’Steven Swinford

Steven Swinford(@ Steven_Swinford)

Ministers are concerned that if they agree to Dec 9th election it will have just * three days * to get royal assent

Whips don’t think it’s possible to get one-line bill through in that time , especially if there’s filibustering in the Lords

Hence tortuous negotiations over date

October 28, 2019

I’ve updated some of the earlier posts from the opening of the debate with direct quotes. But to see the updates, you may need to refresh the page.

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman,Sammy Wilson, is speaking now. He says what is on offer is notBrexitfor the whole of the UK, because it leaves Northern Ireland in the single market.

He describes the PM’s deal as a “death deal to the union”.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, has just finished speaking now. She said that she wanted a second referendum but did not believe there was a majority for it in the Commons. That is why she wanted an early election, she said. She argued that this provided the best chance of stoppingBrexit.

Anna SoubryAnna Soubry, the former Tory MP who now leads the Independent Group for Change, intervened. She said she thought there was now a majority in the Commons for a confirmatory referendum. Swinson did not accept this.

Like Blackford, Swinson also defends giving 16 and 17 – year-olds the right to vote – but without making it a precondition for backing an early election.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, told MPs that his party would not back the motion for a December 12 election but would support efforts for a December 9 poll.

If we enable this motion to pass, we will be out [of the EU] before the prime minister’s election. We cannot allow the Prime Minister to railroad through this disastrous so-called deal.

We will support the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for an election beforeBrexitcan happen, with no reintroduction of the withdrawal agreement bill.

Because given the way that some Labor MPs voted we cannot trustLaborto block the Bill in future.

Asked by the Tory BrexiterIain Duncan Smithif the SNP would insist on amending an early election bill to allow 16 and 17 – year-olds to vote, Blackford said his party favored this because it was the right thing to do. In Scotland 16 and 17 – year-olds were given the vote for the 2014 independence referendum, and subsequently they were allowed to vote in elections to the Scottish parliament and for local government.) But Blackford did not appear to insist on this as a red line.

What Corbyn said about when Labor might back an early election

This is whatJeremy Corbynsaid about the conditions that would need to be apply forLaborto back an early election. He said:

Many of us are very cautious of believing anything the prime minister said. We want it tied down before we agree to anything.

The 12 December election is less than a fortnight before Christmas, nine days before the shortest day of the year. The house must consider that in parts of this country it will be dark before 4pm. Many students will have just finished their term and gone home for Christmas … and they risk being disenfranchised …

As I was saying about students and their opportunity to vote on the dates in question, the latter point may not be the case on the 9 December and we will consider carefully any legislation proposed that locks in the date.

The theme of this is we don’t trust the prime minister. We want something that definitely and definitively takes no deal off the table and ensures that the voting rights of all of our citizens are protected …

We agree that an early election is necessary. But also seek good reason, since no general election has been held in December since 1923 …

When no deal is off the table, when the date for an election can be fixed in law, and when we can ensure that students are not being disenfranchised, we will back an election so this country can get the government it needs.

And here are the main points.

  • Corbyn appeared to rule out accepting an early election on Thursday 12 December, the government preferred date.He suggested this would lead to students being disenfranchised.
  • But he suggested that Labor could back on early election taking place on Monday 9 December (the date proposed by the Lib Dems and the SNP).But the date would have to be set in law, he said (something that would happen if MPs passed an amendment to the Fixed-term Parliament’s Act for an early election, but not if MPs used a FTPA super-majority vote to trigger one – because that mechanism would allow the PM to decide the election date.)

Labor sources are saying it would be a mistake to take Corbyn’s words as implying that he favors an election in early January. (See5. (PM.)That would involve the election campaign taking place over the Christmas holidays – something that would probably be as popular with voters as the plague.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn Photograph: House of Commons / PA

Updated

Journalists are split over the precise implications of Corbyn’s words.

This is from the BBC’sIain Watson.

Iain Watson(@ iainjwatson)

And@Jeremycorbynsays a Dec 12 election will be after many students have finished term and the right to vote is important – this doesnt apply to Dec 9th the# snpand @ libdemsdate

(October 28, 2019

And this is from HuffPost’sPaul Waugh.

Paul Waugh(@ paulwaugh)

Pretty clear from Corbyn that he wont ever enable a December general election. Talks of students not disenfranchised as new test … suggests to me earliest election he would back will be 2nd week of January

(October) , 2019

I will post the exact quotes in a moment so that you are better able to judge who’s right.

Corbyn also says he is opposed to an election on Thursday 12 December, especially because students might not be at university to vote.

Nick Eardley(@ nickeardleybbc)

Corbyn on why he opposed 12 December ;

– Lack of daylight
– Many students will have gone home from where they’re registered to vote

(October) , 2019

Corbyn hints Labor would support early election if date fixed

Corbyn saysLaborwill not agree to an early election until the government has committed itself to a specific date.

This is significant because it implies Labor could support, or at least abstain on, legislation to amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act to allow an early election.

Updated

Labor’sStephen Doughtyintervenes to say there are rumors that Johnson will not even stand as an MP at the election in his constituency, Uxbridge and South Ruislip (where he had a majority of 5,0 34 at the last election). Johnson may stand in Sevenoaks (where there was a Tory majority of 21, 917 in 2017) or East Yorkshire (where it was 15, 0 06), Doughty says.

Johnson shakes his head but does not intervene.

UPDATE:Corbyn also took an intervention from theLaborMP Paula Sherriff who said Johnson still had not apologized for what he said to her in a debate in September implying her concerns about death threats to MPs were “humbug”.

Corbyn replied:

I will be happy to give way now to the prime minister if he wants to get up and apologise to my friend for what he said about her during that debate.

Johnson replied:

I will happily apologise if the shadow chancellor would for instance apologise for inviting the population to lynch [Tory minister Esther McVey].

Corbyn said: “Sorry seems to be the hardest word, doesn’t it?”

Updated

Jeremy Corbynis responding toBoris Johnson.

He says Johnson has broken his promises.

This is a prime minister who cannot be trusted. Having illegally prorogued parliament for five weeks for his Queen’s speech, he now abandons that Queen’s speech.

He got his deal through a second reading then abandoned it. He promised us a budget on November 6 and then he abandoned that too.

He said he would never ask for an extension and he said he would rather die in a ditch – another broken promise.

The government spent £ 100 m on an advertising campaign saying the UK would be leaving the EU on 31 October. He says that money could have been spend on food parcels for food banks, or social care packages.

He says an investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches program has revealed that the government has been holding secret meetings with US drug companies about the price paid for drugs by the NHS.

He says the prime minister has not confirmed that he will be accepting the extension offered by the EU.

This provokes much jeering from MPs who have been reading Twitter on their phones. Johnson intervenes and says he has sent a letter to the EU confirming that he will obey the law.

(Corbyn will have written his speech before the text of the PM’s letter to Tusk was published. See5 . (PM.)

Updated

Johnson confirms he is accepting EU’s extension, but urges it to rule out another beyond January

Boris Johnsonhas written to Donald Tusk, president of the European council, confirming that the UK is accepting the extension offered by the EU. Under the Benn Act, he had no choice. See10. 13 am.Here ishis letter (pdf).

In the letter Johnson urges the EU to rule out any further extension beyond 31 January.

PM’s letter to Tusk
PM’s letter to Tusk Photograph: No 10

PM’s letter to Tusk
PM’s letter to Tusk Photograph: No 10

Johnson says Labor has ‘run out of excuses’ not to back early election

Johnson accuses Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to frustrate the wishes of the people.

Corbyn has “run out of excuses”, he says.

He says first Corbyn said the Benn act would have to pass for (Labor) to back an election.

Then Corbyn said the Benn act would have to be implemented, Johnson says.

And now Corbyn is coming up with more extreme excuses, he says. He says Corbyn now wants the government to rule out a no-deal (Brexit) at the end of 2020.

We must have an election now, we cannot continue with this endless delay, and I don’t know about you Mr Speaker, but I think the leader of the opposition has now run out of excuses …

And he’s still coming up with ever more ludicrous excuses for hiding from the British people.

Now he says we’ve got to take no-deal off the table at the end of the transition period in December 2020.

Would it not make sense, according even to his own logic, for him to agree to an election now, so that he can have an opportunity to take no-deal off the table himself – isn ‘t that the logic of his position?

He says Corbyn’s allies, like the Lib Dems and the SNP, are deserting him.

He can run, but he cannot hide forever. Across parliament, his supposed allies are deserting him. The SNP, I now read, are in favor of an election, and the Lib Dems are in favor of an election.

What an incredible state of affairs that there is one party tonight that is actually against a general election. There is one party that does not trust the people of this country, and that is the principal party of opposition.

I hope he accepts tonight that he is snookered, that this charade has gone on for long enough, that he will agree to allow Brexit to get done, and then allow us to make our cases to the people.

And, when that election comes, the people of this country will have to make a choice between a government that delivers, a government that not only got a great Brexit deal when they said it was impossible , but which is also putting 20, 00 0 more police on the streets, del ivering the biggest hospital building program in a generation, investing £ 14 bn more in our schools in leveling up education funding across the country, a great one nation Conservative government, which is what we represent, and a Labor opposition that would turn the year 2020 into a toxic tedious torture of two more referendums.

Updated (at 2. 34 PM EDT

The DUP MPIan Paisleyintervenes. IfBoris Johnsonwins the election, will he implement the Brexit deal he negotiated? Or will he try and renegotiate the provisions for Northern Ireland.

Johnson says he will be campaigning to implement the “excellent deal” he negotiated.

Boris Johnson says parliament has ‘run its course’ as he opens debate on holding early election

Boris Johnsonis opening the debate on his motion calling for an early election. It is the third time he has asked MPs to vote on this. After both previous debates Johnson won the vote – but not with the two-thirds majority required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act for the vote to count.

He starts by saying that MPs do not want an early election.

But there is a widespread view that this parliament has “run its course”, he says. He says it is not capable of delivering on the priority of the people.

Across the country there is a widespread view that this parliament has run its course.

I simply do not believe that this house is capable of delivering on the priority of the people, whether that meansBrexitor anything else.

Updated

Tory Brexiters suggest extension should be used to renegotiate PM’s backstop alternative

This is from the Conservative Brexiter MPCraig Mackinlay.

Craig Mackinlay MP(@ cmackinlay)

Looks like disgraceful Benn /#SurrenderActhas delivered what the# BrexitBlockers intended -a foul & unwanted extension. So be it; gives us the time that wasn’t available to the# PMto reopen the (# WA) and get changes to# NIProtocolto the satisfaction of@ duponline.# Silverlining

(October) , 2019

Steve Baker,the Tory MP who chairs the European Research Group, which represents hardline Brexiters, thinks his colleague has a point .

Steve Baker MP(@ SteveBakerHW)

It’s a good point worth exploring.https://t.co/aNt2rjLcMP

(October) , 2019

The Scottish parliament’s information center has produceda 39 – page briefing (pdf)on what the withdrawal agreement bill means for Scotland.

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