Something happened: A long and speedy day in the House of Commons


So something has happened in the House of Commons, a bill proposed by the Conservative MP Letwin and the Labour MP Cooper – yes that bill, that Letwin-Cooper bill, that one we’veprobably been hearing about for a few weeks passed by 1 vote (or maybe I’m thinking of the Letwin-Cooper amendment, or the Letwin-Cooper dinner party?).

But what is this bill about? Essentially it says Parliament wishes for the Prime Minister to negotiate a further extension with the EU. She was already going to do this, from her speech on Tuesday, but the stark difference here is that Parliament will get to decide how long she asks for – how long do parliament want, we don’t know.

The bill passed through the lower house of the Westminster parliament last night by 1 vote, but it can’t become law until being passed through the upper chamber, which could be today, Friday or Monday. And then presumably it has to await royal ascent before being actual UK law.

Apparently the bill prevents no-deal brexit, I’m not entirely sure how, but I think it’s a trigger clause (I don’t know that, I haven’t seen the bill in full)- essentially if there is no deal by this date, Parliament instructs the Prime Minister to negotiate an extension etc.

There are issues of course, from come corners. The bill was “rammed through” the house according to die-hards in the ERG. And the government’s own amendment, which somehow was designed to limit the power of the bill was defeated by 180 votes. I have been informed this is the second largest defeat in recent times, the first being on that withdrawal bill.

And during the amendments process for the bill, the Speaker, John Bercow, was forced to follow precedent and vote – something that hasn’t happened since 1993! That amendment would have handed MPs the control of this coming Monday’s order papers (basically the agenda) for the House of Commons on Monday, so that they could hold more of those highly productive indicative votes. The amendment was tied, which means the precedent of the house is for the Speaker, who never votes, to cast the deciding votes. And precedent for the Speaker’s vote is for the vote to be in line with the governments position, in this case the no’s won.

The Letwin-Cooper Bill is designed to make sure, essentially, that the PM does actually negotiate an extension to Article 50.

So whilst all this has happened, Theresa and Jeremy were probably having tea, and maybe some scones, as they discussed in what was apparently open and constructive but not conclusive talks. And it seems Corbyn has asked for a confirmatory referendum on the final deal, as part of these talks.

We stand at a point where we wait to see if the Letwin-Cooper Bill passes the House of Lords (likely), and then for the PM proposes the length of extension for the Commons approval. After all this, it looks like No Deal, Second Referendum, Long Extension. And maybe the explosion of the Conservative party, whilst the Labour party is rumoured to not be far behind. Essentially not much has changed, whilst everything (in terms of the way forward) is now different, concretely set against the a no-deal brexit and in favour of a longer extension. However, from my understanding, no deal is still the default on April 12th and it’s possibile, even post any extension, so anti-no-dealers, don’t celebrate just yet.

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