Brexit no-deal, no go? British MPs back bid to block shutdown of Parliament

Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament, in London © Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis / Free

British lawmakers have voted in favor of a bid to stop the future Tory prime minister – hotly tipped to be Boris Johnson – from suspending the UK Parliament to ram through a no-deal Brexit.

MPs in the House of Commons backed an amendment by a majority of 41 (315-274) which blocks the suspension of Parliament between October 9 and December 18 unless a Northern Ireland executive is formed.

The vote is a blow for Johnson, who is the frontrunner to become Britain’s next prime minister, who has refused to take the ‘proroguing’ (suspension) of Parliament off the table as a backup measure to see the UK leave the EU by October 31. It now becomes increasingly difficult for such drastic action to take place.

Seventeen Tories rebelled against Theresa May’s government, including Minister for Digital and Creative Industries Margot James, who resigned. Other notable rebels included Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and former Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart, who all abstained.

The amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill means that if Parliament is suspended when the UK government publishes reports on the situation in the Northern Irish assembly, MPs must be recalled to debate them.

One of the key signatories to the amendment, former Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt, claimed that MPs had spoken very loudly and clearly with this vote to insist that they should not be bypassed, adding that “Parliament must be sitting in the run up to October 31.”

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