What deadline defeat means for Boris Johnson’s Brexit | FT

welcome it is, even joyful, that for the first
time in this long saga, this house has actually accepted
its responsibilities together, come together, and
embraced a deal. CROWD: Yea. SEBASTIAN PAYNE: Boris Johnson
had a bittersweet victory in the House of
Commons last night. On the one hand,
the prime minister won a vote in principle
on his Brexit deal. A majority of 30
MPs said they would back Mr Johnson’s new
withdrawal agreement on the second reading. But he then suffered an
immediate defeat when the programme motion that
defines the terms of debate was defeated. The key thing was only
five Labour MPs backed that programme motion whereas 19
had backed Mr Johnson’s deal. So once again, we
are in Brexit limbo. The House of Commons
in theory has approved Mr Johnson’s Brexit
deal, but not on the timetable he wants to do it. BORIS JOHNSON: The EU must
now make up their minds over how to answer parliament’s
request for a delay. And the first
consequence, Mr Speaker, is that the government must
take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations
for a no deal outcome. [INTERPOSING VOICES] But secondly, I will speak– I will speak to EU member
states about their intentions until they have reached a
decision, until we reach– [INAUDIBLE] we will
pause this legislation. SEBASTIAN PAYNE: So what’s
going to happen next? Well, Boris Johnson has thrown
Brexit back over to the EU and said there will have
to respond on his request to delay Brexit once again. That request was
forced by Parliament. If that’s a relatively short
request or a flexible request that could fall away
once a deal is passed, Mr Johnson will probably
go along with it. But if EU leaders
come back and say it needs to be a
much longer request, then Downing Street
is going to want to push for a general election. Downing Street has tried for
this twice in recent months, but has been thwarted
by labour MPs. 2/3 of the Commons needs to
vote for a general election. And Labour MPs don’t
particularly want an election right now, not least because
the party is 10 points behind in the opinion polls. BORIS JOHNSON: One
way or another, we will leave the EU with this
deal to which this house has just given its ascent. CROWD: Yea. SEBASTIAN PAYNE: So once
again, it’s over to Brussels to see what they come back with. Once again, MPs are
very good at saying what they don’t
want with Brexit, but haven’t quite said
exactly what they do.

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