Live coverage: MPs back Brexit delay amendment as protesters march in London
Boris Johnson had appealed to MPs to end a ‘painful chapter’ as the October 31 deadline for withdrawal looms.
Boris Johnson’s hopes of getting Commons backing for his Brexit deal have hit a major stumbling block after MPs voted for an amendment which could force him to seek another delay.
In a special Saturday sitting, the Commons voted by 322 to 306, majority 16, in favour of the amendment by the former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin withholding approval until legislation to implement the deal is in place.
Meanwhile, thousands of second referendum supporters are marching on Parliament asking for a vote on the deal.
Here’s the latest:
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said any extension could only be granted “by unanimity”, with all EU heads of state agreeing.
Watch: How did MPs vote to delay Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal?
Footage posted to social media showed Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Leadsom being heckled by People’s Vote demonstrators as they left Parliament under police escort.
The demonstrators could be heard shouting “shame” as Mr Rees-Mogg and his young son passed the protesters on Millbank.
Similarly, boos and shouts of “shame on you” were directed at Mrs Leadsom as she walked up the street surrounded by officers.
Reacting to this afternoon’s vote in the Commons, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “We have won because we believe it is time to unite the country once again.
“Yes, there are people who believe our future lies outside of the EU.
“We might disagree with that view but if it is honestly held we respect it.”
But he added that some politicians had seized that issue for a “ruthless pursuit of power for power’s sake”.
Conservative MP and former leadership hopeful Stephen Crabb has said he does not know if the Prime Minister will write a letter to the EU formally requesting an extension as laid out in the so-called Benn Act.
The MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire said: “I don’t know whether Boris Johnson will send that letter and I don’t fully understand the legalities of it but I’m pretty sure the country wants to see him carrying on being as determined as he can be.”
Watch: PM says he will not request Brexit extension
Labour MPs Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott came out to cheers from the crowds.
Sir Keir said: “What we have done is historic because we defeated Johnson again.
“We are not going to let him to rip us out with this sellout deal and we have just won by 16 votes.”
Ms Abbott said that she is a Remainer and her constituency of Hackney is strongly pro-Remain.
“We want to live in an open, inclusive, outward-looking world,” she added.
Ms Thornberry said she was told there are over a million protesters.
“You are on the streets, it doesn’t matter which parties you support and what your political backgrounds are,” she added.
Asked what he thought the Commons should do if the Prime Minister does not ask for an extension, Jeremy Corbyn said: “Well the Commons are going to come back to the issue on Monday, and I hope the Commons on Monday will reiterate its view that we do not support or agree with the proposals he’s brought back, the agreement he’s brought back, and ensure that there is no crash out.”
On whether it is time for the Opposition to table a motion of no confidence in the Government, Mr Corbyn said: “We will do that when the time is right to do it, but our priority is to prevent this country leaving on the 31st without a deal.”
He said Mr Johnson’s deal is “not acceptable”, adding: “Parliament has clearly not accepted it today because of the damage it would do to jobs as well as to consumer, environmental and working rights in this country.”
Meanwhile outside Parliament, the demonstrations continued.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson “must now obey the law” and avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Responding to Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, his opposite number Valerie Vaz asked what this meant for the further two days of debate on the Queen’s Speech and subsequent vote that were planned for Monday and Tuesday.
Ms Vaz said: “I would ask him through you Mr Speaker why we are having a re-run of the vote? If that’s not the case, could the Bill be published and could the Bill be debated in an orderly way? Thirdly, how discourteous is this to Her Majesty The Queen when we are still debating the Queen’s Speech?
“When are we likely to debate the remainder of days of the Queen’s Speech?”
Shadow SNP Commons Leader Pete Wishart said: “This is a huge discourtesy to the House. If the right honourable gentleman (Mr Rees-Mogg) wanted a vote on this Government’s deal it could have had it 20 minutes ago. That was the right time to do it. We deserve some sort of explanation as to why this was brought back on Monday so quickly without any conversation or discussions across usual channels.”
Sadiq Khan thanked the attendees for not judging the current mayor of London on the actions of the past mayor of London.
He said that EU citizens are part of what make London a great city.
He said: “They are our friends, members of our family, they are our colleagues. Over the last three years they have been feeling anxious, worried and heartbroken.
“I want you to look around. This is what democracy looks like.”
Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart addressed the crowds at the People’s Vote protest from the stage.
Sir Patrick said he had been told a “People’s Vote” was a “pipe dream” but praised the thousands of people in the crowd for continuing to support a second referendum.
He said: “You haven’t just filled a nice bar in north London, you have taken over an entire city. You haven’t just impacted the Brexit debate, you have transformed British politics.”
He added there was “nothing democratic” about the 2016 referendum.
“People weren’t just misled, they were lied to,” said Sir Patrick.
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds told the Commons: “This decision now will give further time for detailed consideration of the bill when it comes forward. It will also give an opportunity to consider in detail whatever amendments come forward.”
SNP MP Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) asked: “The Prime Minister has failed to secure an approval of the Withdrawal Agreement today in terms of the Benn Act and that means under the law of this land he should be retreating to Number 10 to pen a letter to the EU in terms of the Act and in terms of the undertakings… that he gave to the Scottish court.
“Fortunately Mr Speaker we’re back in court on Monday morning and it will be possible then to secure the court’s assistance if the Prime Minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court.
“But Mr Speaker can I ask this. Should Scotland’s Supreme Court mandate you to sign the letter required by the Act on behalf of this Parliament, will you do so?”
Mr Bercow replied: “If I were instructed by this House, I would do as instructed and if I were directed or instructed by a court, I would do as directed. That is my instinctive reaction.
“I would of course seek further and better particulars, I would take advice, but I repeat, I haven’t been asked, I’m not expecting to be asked, I’m not looking to be asked, but I would do as I was required to do and I would have no hesitation in so doing.”
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government is planning to give MPs a chance to have a meaningful vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal on Monday.
Raising a point of order, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “In the light of today’s decision I should like to inform the House that Monday’s business now be a debate on a motion relating to section 13 1(b) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018.
“And I shall make a further business statement on Monday.”
Section 13 1(b) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 requires that MPs have a “meaningful vote” on any Brexit deal in order for it to be ratified.
Anti-Brexit protesters cheered at Parliament Square in London when it was announced that the Letwin amendment was accepted.
Sir Oliver Letwin told MPs: “I want to say first of all to the Prime Minister that I actually agreed with what he said at the end there and that I am absolutely certain he will comply with the law.
“I want to say to friends and colleagues across the House who helped us achieve this amendment that I believe to be profoundly in the national interest, that I am very grateful for that co-operation.”
He added: “Now, when the Prime Minister brings the Withdrawal Implementation Bill to the house of Commons, we will be voting for it, we will continue to vote for it. We will seek to ensure that it becomes the law before October 31. And if it does so become the law, this country will leave on October 31.
“A hope that I share with the Prime Minister, but it will do so on the basis of knowing should anything go wrong, we will not crash out without a deal on that date.”
Watch: MPs vote to delay approval of Brexit deal
Asked if previous statements from ministers that the Government would comply with the law still stood, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “Governments comply with the law.”
The division list for the Letwin amendment showed 231 Labour MPs voted for it alongside the 10 DUP MPs.
They were joined by 19 Liberal Democrats, 35 SNP MPs, 17 Independents, four Plaid Cymru MPs, five Independent Group for Change MPs and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
The list added 283 Conservative MPs opposed it along with six Labour MPs and 17 Independents.
Analysis of the division list showed the six Labour MPs to rebel to oppose the Letwin amendment were: Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), and John Mann (Bassetlaw).
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford warned Mr Johnson he must respect the law and send a letter to the European Council to seek an extension to the Brexit process.
Raising a point of order, Mr Blackford told the Commons: “Any failure of a Prime Minister who thinks he is above the law, well, Prime Minister you’ll find yourself in court.”
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said voters deserve a “final say” in a second referendum, adding: “The most urgent thing right now is the Prime Minister complies with the law.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was the first EU leader to respond to the vote.
Mr Johnson added: “I hope (MPs) faced with a choice of our new deal, our new deal for the UK and the EU, will change their minds.”
He added: “No delays, and I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31st and I continue to commend this excellent deal to the House.”
Mr Johnson said: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.”
He added: “Further delay would be bad for this country, bad for our EU and bad for democracy. So next week the Government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the EU with our new deal on October 31st and I hope that our EU colleagues and friends will not be attracted as the benches opposite are, or rather I should say the front bench, by delay.”
Mr Corbyn said: “I welcome today’s vote. It’s an emphatic decision by this house that has declined to back the Prime Minister’s deal today, and clearly voted to stop a no-deal crash out from the European Union.
“The Prime Minister must now comply with the law. He can no longer use the threat of a no-deal crash out to blackmail members to support his sell out deal.
“Labour is not prepared to sell out the communities that we represent, we’re not prepared to sell out their future, and we believe that ultimately the people must have the final say on Brexit, which actually, only the Labour party is offering.
“Today is an historic day for parliament because it said it will not be blackmailed by a Prime Minister who is apparently prepared once again to defy a law passed by this parliament.
“I invite him to think very carefully about the remarks he just made about refusing, apparently, to apply for the extension which the EU number two Act requires him to do.”
Nicola Sturgeon also welcomed the result.
The House of Commons Twitter account posted that the Government now “must ask for an extension of Article 50 under the Benn Act and set out how it intends to proceed”.
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “It has been a very important debate, an exceptional moment for our country, an exceptional moment for our Parliament.
“Alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.
“But I wish the House to know that I am not daunted or dismayed by this particular result and I think it probably became likely once it became obvious that the amendment from my right honourable friend, the member for West Dorset was going to remain on the order paper.
“I continue in the very strong belief that the best thing for the UK, and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31, and to anticipate the questions that are coming from the benches opposite, I will not negotiate a delay with the EU.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.”
MPs have approved Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment which seeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit on October 31 by 322 votes to 306, majority 16.
They have supported a motion which states they have considered the Government’s Brexit deal but “withholds approval” until legislation implementing it has been passed.
A DUP source confirmed the party was backing Letwin.
Closing the debate, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said that as democrats, MPs should back leaving the EU with a deal.
Mr Gove, the cabinet minister with the responsibility for no-deal preparations, said: “I know that deciding how to vote today for many members will have been difficult and it is important for us to recognise that for those who argued to Remain, and still argue that that is the best outcome, they do so as patriots but they take a different view from some of us.”
He added: “What unites us in this House is that we are democrats. And we voted in this House of Commons to have a referendum, we voted in this House of Commons to say that we would respect the verdict of the people.
“We voted overwhelmingly for Article 50 which honoured that referendum and said that we would leave. How would it look to those who send us here now if we say to them we made those sacred promises but now we chose to dishonour them?”
Watch Theresa May urges MPs to back new Brexit deal
MPs have started voting on amendments to the Government’s Brexit deal motion.
They are first considering Independent MP Sir Oliver Letwin’s proposal which seeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
They are then expected to vote on a cross-party proposal which rejects a no-deal Brexit and seeks a second referendum.
Once these two amendments have been dealt with, the Government motion – either as amended or not – will be considered.
Votes in the Commons take approximately 15 minutes each.
Nigel Farage has accused members of the European Research Group of putting party before country by supporting Boris Johnson’s deal.
Labour former minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock urged Labour MPs to reject the deal, insisting the EU was a “beacon” for workers’ rights, food safety and consumer protection.
“That’s why we should be staying,” he said. “Any assurances Labour MPs get from this Prime Minister are totally worthless.
“He is, we know, an inveterate liar and the sooner people recognise that the better.”
Lord Foulkes warned: “If there is one Labour MP who helps Boris Johnson to get a majority of one, he or she will rue the day.”
He called for the deal to be defeated and for Parliament to vote to go back to the people with another referendum.
Independent MP Sir Nicholas Soames tweeted that he will support Boris Johnson’s deal.
Anti-Brexit protesters have taken over Parliament Square in London.
A man has been arrested for trespassing on the parliamentary estate.
Conservative Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, revealed his support for the Brexit deal.
The veteran Eurosceptic said: “Having given a great deal of consideration to all the issues that have been discussed over the last few weeks, and having had the opportunity to discuss with ministers and in Number 10 and in various other places and in our groups, I have come to the conclusion that we must support this deal.”
Independent MP Dominic Grieve, who was one of the 21 Tory MPs who lost the whip after supporting efforts to block a no-deal, indicated he “would not seek to oppose” the Prime Minister’s deal.
The Beaconsfield MP added: “I don’t believe that it is in any way a con trick when one finds oneself ending up with something so utterly different from what was being offered, I don’t see anything wrong with going back and asking the electorate whether that (is what) they really want.
“I remain of the view that possibility exists and if it were to be a majority view of the House that it should be done, I would support it and seek to have that carried out because I think the consequences are so momentous.
“But I would also like to make clear to the Prime Minister that if that were to fail, I would not seek to oppose leaving on these terms. I want to make that quite clear.”
Labour’s Hilary Benn, who lends his name to the Act which requires the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the date the UK leaves the EU if a deal is not approved on Saturday, said the “compromise position” is to hold a second referendum.
The Leeds Central MP added: “There is a way in which we can get this done and achieve a decision and is by asking the British people – and at the heart of the question is this: do the British people have the right to change their minds?”
DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said: “Either we avoid a hard border, or we have a hard border. Either we adhere to the Belfast Agreement, or we don’t adhere to the Belfast Agreement.
“And this agreement that the Government has signed turn all those things on their head. And that’s the reason why we will oppose it.
“Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland alone will be left within the clutches of the European Union by being de facto members of a customs union, and being tied to European regulations.”
He added: “If anybody tells me that that does not represent an economic customs, legal border, hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, I don’t know what a hard border looks like.”
“We would be failing in our duty if we do not use every strategy which is available to try to get guarantees, changes, and alterations which will safeguard the interests of the United Kingdom, the interests of our constituents, and the interests that we represent.”
Chef Rick Stein has tweeted a picture of himself attending the People’s Vote march in central London, while restaurant critic Jay Rayner has also tweeted his support.
A spokeswoman for the House of Commons has confirmed an “incident” has taken place involving a visitor.
“We are aware of an incident involving a visitor in a public area of the Parliamentary estate. Security staff and the police attended and the situation has been resolved,” she said.
Standing to move his amendment, Labour MP Peter Kyle (Hove) said: “I make this simple point – both deals can’t represent the will of the people, and I say with all humility, if you want to know what people voted for, if you want to know what the will of the people is, you can ask them, not ask them based on promises, ask them based on facts because we have the facts now.”
He continued: “We could be the Remainers who open the doors to Brexit – it is about fundamentally breaking the gridlock here in Parliament.”
Mr Kyle added: “Therefore, we have proposed a compromise whereby we would allow the deal to pass through Parliament in return for inviting the public in to say, in a definitive final say, whether they will allow this deal to pass.
“The public can decide is this deal good enough for them, their family, their community, their jobs and our country. If it is, then we can leave directly on those terms without any need to return to this place. If it is not, we remain with the deal we have.”
He continued: “Because the Government is pushing two final motions tonight, one on their deal, one on no-deal, we will have an opportunity to vote after the House has spoken on the main deal.
“So to all people who want to support the deal, I say this: focus on the deal, support the deal, but accept one thing – if the deal does not succeed in the first vote tonight, we have to make a choice, and there is a choice on the table that keeps the deal alive, that keeps the deal intact.”
Mrs May said if Labour cared about protecting jobs they “would have voted for the deal earlier”.
She said: “I’ve heard much from the Labour party frontbench over the last three years about the importance of protecting jobs, of protecting manufacturing, of protecting people’s livelihoods. If they really meant that they would have voted for the deal earlier.”
She added: “Now is their chance to show whether they really care about people by voting for this deal tonight – this afternoon I hope – in this House of Commons.
“Then I say to all of those across this House who say they do not want no-deal. I’ve said it before, I’ve said it many times, I hope this is the last time I have to say it.
“If you don’t want no-deal, you have to vote for a deal. Businesses are crying out for certainty, people want certainty in their lives, our investors to be able to able to invest and want the uncertainty to got rid of.
“They want to know that this country is moving forward. If you want to deliver Brexit, if you want to keep faith with British people, if you want this country to move forward then vote for the deal today.”
A shout of “rebel” emerged from the Tory backbench, to which Mrs May replied: “Well I intend to rebel against all of those who don’t want to vote to deliver Brexit.”
She added: “Today’s vote is important. The eyes of the country, no, actually the eyes of the wider world are upon us today and every member in this House has a responsibility in the decision that they will take to determine whether or not they’re going to put the national interest first and not just an ideological or single issue or a party political interest, but the full wider interests of our constituents.”
Mrs May said: “The position we take tonight will determine not just the future of our country and the future lives of our constituents but, I believe, the very future of our politics. Because we have, today, to make a key decision. And it is simple, do we want to deliver Brexit? Do we want to deliver on the result of the referendum in 2016?”
She added: “When we voted to trigger Article 50, did we really mean it? When the two main parties represented in this House stood on manifestos in the 2017 general election to deliver Brexit, did we really mean it?
“I think there can only be one answer to that and that is yes, we did mean it. Yes, we keep faith with the British people. Yes, we want to deliver Brexit.”
Mrs May added: “If this Parliament did not mean it, then it is guilty of the most egregious con trick on the British people.”
Mrs May said there could not be a second referendum “simply because some people did not agree” with the result of the first one.
Theresa May urged MPs to get on with Brexit.
After she made a rugby joke, the Conservative former prime minister told the Commons: “I hope the whole House will forgive me if I say standing here I have a distinct sense of deja vu.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be heard saying: “I know how you feel.”
The People’s Vote protesters are near Westminster now as the debate in the Commons continues.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said Boris Johnson’s deal is bad for Scotland and that the SNP will vote against it.
Mr Blackford said: “Scotland has been totally and utterly shafted by this Prime Minister and this Tory Government.”
He added: “Mr Speaker, the Scottish National Party categorically reject this appalling Brexit deal and we will vote it down today.
“Not only would this deal be devastating for Scotland, dragging us out of the European Union and the single market and the customs union, against our will, it is clear that a right-wing Brexiteer has been assured by senior Tory Government ministers that backing this deal could lead to a no-deal crash out if trade talks fail next year.
“Mr Speaker, anyone tempted to vote for this deal needs to be warned that this is a blank cheque to the vote leave campaign who are now running the Tory Government to crash all of us out of the European Union on a no-deal basis at the end of transition next year.”
Mr Blackford continued: “The Prime Minister’s deal isn’t a deal at all, it’s the gateway to a no-deal Brexit.”
Around 50 pro-Catalonian independence protesters, many of whom wore the flag over their shoulders, joined in the anti-Brexit march shouting “shame on Spain”.
Catalan Marc Pujol, 40, who has worked in London in IT for the last 13 years, said he thought the EU had been a restraining force on the Spanish authorities.
He said: “Catalan society has been traditionally very pro-European, there is a strong sentiment for Europe but in the last few years they feel let down.”
Mr Pujol said that he hoped that the UK could remain in the EU as a “critical voice”.
Moving amendment (a) in his name, Sir Oliver Letwin said while he supports the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, his amendment would prevent an unintended no-deal Brexit.
He added: “The Prime Minister has a strategy, I fully accept that, and I accept that it is rational in its own terms. Is it that he wants to be able to say to any waverers ‘it’s my deal or no-deal. Vote for the implementing legislation or we crash out’.
“Now I understand that strategy but we can’t be sure that such a threat from the Prime Minister would work.”
He added: “I, despite my support for the Prime Minister’s deal, do not believe that it’s responsible to put the nation at risk by making that threat.
“So I’m moving this amendment to ensure that whichever way any future votes may go, today, or next week, or the week after, we can be secure in the knowledge that the UK will have requested an extension tonight, which if granted can be used if and to the extent necessary, and only the extent necessary, to prevent a no-deal exit.”
Sir Keir said: “Some colleagues are tempted to vote for the deal because they believe it prevents or removes the possibility of crashing out on WTO terms. It does not.
“Under the previous deal, if the future relationship was not ready by the end of transition, the backstop kicked in. That prevented WTO terms. That has gone. This is a trap door to no-deal.”
He added: “The decision on extending transition under this deal needs to be taken by the end of July next year. That’s eight months away.
“It is very hard, very hard to see how any Government could negotiate a completed future relationship within such a short time frame.”
Sir Patrick Stewart and Stephen McGann have joined protesters on the People’s Vote march.
The People’s Vote march for a Final Say on Britain’s departure from the EU has set off towards Westminster, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Sir Patrick Stewart among the marchers.
Sir Keir said: “The words about alignment are all but gone. A deliberate decision has been taken to take out the aspiration of as close as possible trading relationship and a deliberate decision has been taken to take out all the words about alignment.
“That is not an accident, that is not a typo, that is a deeply political decision that tells you everything about the direction of travel under this deal.”
Referring to the removal of the backstop, he added: “It means that the starting point for the next stage is a baseline FTA (free trade agreement) with no safety net for workplace rights, consumer rights and environmental standards.”
He went on: “It’s obvious where this ends. It either ends with an FTA which significantly weakens rights, standards and protections or it ends in no deal and WTO terms at the end of the transition.”
Watch: Anti-Brexit march – Giant puppets of PM and Dominic Cummings paraded through London
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “There’s been a lot of attention on how the deal operates in Northern Ireland, and rightly so, but that shouldn’t be allowed to mask the political project that is driving this deal.”
Sir Keir added: “So it’s clear what this deal does, it rips up our close trading relationship with the EU and the price will be paid in damage to our economy and in job losses.
“And anyone doubting this should look at the words stripped out of the deal put forward by the previous prime minister, put the texts side by side and ask some difficult questions.
“Paragraph 19 used to read this: ‘The parties envisage having a trading relationship on goods that is as close as possible with a view to facilitating the ease of legitimate trade.’
“Those words, as close as possible, have been stripped out, why? Now it said we want as close as possible, now it said there’s all sorts of assurances.
“But between the text as it was under the previous prime minister, and the text we have before us today, the words that we want a trading relationship on goods that’s as close as possible, those words have been taken out and that’s not an accident.”
Independent MP Ed Vaizey, who was one of 21 Tory MPs who had the whip removed after voting to try to block a no-deal Brexit in September, asked the Brexit Secretary to confirm what will happen if the Letwin amendment passes.
The Wantage MP asked: “Can he just answer me yes or no on this? If the Letwin amendment passes and the Bill comes in next week and it passes by October 31 we leave on October 31, yes or no?
“If the Letwin amendment doesn’t pass and the Bill comes through next week and it doesn’t pass by October 31, we leave with no deal, yes or no?”
Responding Mr Barclay said: “What is yes is to proceed we need to pass section 13 (to allow a meaningful vote). That is an argument he and many others have repeatedly raised. That is why it is important we defeat this amendment to deliver that and avoid any further delay.”
Independent MP Nick Boles, who quit the Conservative Party in April over the Government’s Brexit stance, intervened to say: “If the Letwin amendment passes and the Government brings forward the Bill at the start of next week, and that Bill passes before October 31, we will leave on October 31 without a delay.”
The Grantham and Stamford MP added that if pro-Brexit MPs then decide they “prefer the idea of a no-deal Brexit and the Bill fails we will leave on October with no deal”.
Brexit supporters have taken to the streets in Manchester. The “march for democracy”’ takes place near Manchester Cathedral, organised by Leavers of Greater Manchester.
Pro- and anti-Brexit protesters are gathering in London as the debate continues. Huge crowds gathered on Old Park Lane for the anti-Brexit Let Us Be Heard march which was heading to Parliament Square.
Pro Brexit supporters are protesting outside parliament.
Tory MP Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) said: “The aim of Amendment A is clear. The emperor has no clothes. It is to stop us leaving the European Union at any cost.
“The ERG met this morning. And normally our meetings are private. But under the circumstances there are three things I thought I should share with the House.
“One, the officers overwhelmingly recommended backing the Prime Minister’s deal. The ERG overwhelmingly recommended the same, and no member of the ERG spoke against it.
“Thirdly, and most importantly, we agreed that if you vote for the deal, you vote for the Bill. And if the deal is passed today, we will faithfully vote the Bill through to the end, so we can leave the European Union. You have our word.”
Watch: Stephen Barclay asks Sir Oliver Letwin to withdraw amendment to Brexit deal
DUP MP Jim Shannon (Strangford) said: “Unionist in Strangford at this moment in time is a second class citizen in comparison to Unionist in north east Cambridgeshire.
“Can the minister tell me how the Unionist people of Northern Ireland those, and my children and grandchildren, and their birthright, will be secondary to a Unionist across anywhere else in the United Kingdom?
“Does he not understand the angst and the fear and the annoyance that we have in Northern Ireland as Unionists?”
He said Unionists in Northern Ireland have been “treated as second class citizens, and our opinion, I say, means nothing.”
Mr Barclay said the Prime Minister had tried to ensure Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom customs union, which will help Northern Irish citizens benefit from the “great trade deals” the UK will negotiate.
Independent former Tory Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) said: “I wish the Government would just listen a little bit, because I think it would find there’s much more common ground on this than it has ever been prepared to acknowledge.
“Instead of which it continues to give the impression that it just wants to drive a coach and horses through the rights of this House to do proper scrutiny.”
Labour MP Caroline Flint (Don Valley) has criticised sponsors of both the Benn Act and the Letwin amendment for wanting to delay Brexit.
Ms Flint said: “Does the right honourable gentleman agree with me that this is a panic measure by the right honourable member for Dorset West (Sir Oliver Letwin) to secure his amendment today.
“It is because they had no idea or confidence that a deal would be before us today which would allow those in this House who want to secure a deal so we can move on and leave the European Union by 31 October would happen.
“As a result, by today’s measures, in voting for the amendment by the right honourable member for Dorset West, we will be forced, even if a deal is approved, to seek an extension to January 31, underlying that the sponsors of the Benn Act had only one motivation, and that was to delay Brexit and stop it.”
Labour has confirmed that the party will back the Letwin amendment in the Commons.
Tory MP Simon Hoare, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee, said he believed the Prime Minister’s deal “accords with the Good Friday Agreement”.
He added: “I think it presages a new golden age for relationships north, south of the border which is to be welcomed.
“And I congratulate the Government on adopting the stance of consent rather than veto that presents modern island of Ireland politics today.”
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds asked whether the Government’s support for a majority vote at Stormont on Northern Ireland’s consent to its customs arrangements in the future meant the end of vetoes in the Assembly.
He added: “Can we now take it that the policy of the Government is to do away with vetoes, for instance, about getting the Assembly up and running? Four out of the five parties in Northern Ireland want it up and running?”
Responding, Mr Barclay said: “This is about a reserved matter that applies to our international agreements as a United Kingdom and not the powers that sit with the Assembly within the Good Friday agreement. And that is why there wasn’t a willingness to give one community a power of veto over the other.”
Mr Dodds rejected this assessment, adding: “It is simply not true to say that agriculture and manufactured goods and so on are reserved matters. These are matters devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. This is just not correct. Please do not use that argument.”
Meanwhile, Morris dancers are taking part in an anti-Brexit Let Us Be Heard march on Old Park Lane and are heading to Parliament Square in London.
Some Labour politicians took exception after Mr Barclay made reference to former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam in his statement on the deal.
MPs will end up having a “meaningless” vote if an amendment which could delay Brexit is approved, the Government has said.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay urged Independent former minister Sir Oliver Letwin to withdraw his proposal, which would withhold approval for Boris Johnson’s deal unless and until legislation implementing it is passed.
It is designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit taking place on October 31 and provide the required time for all the necessary processes to be completed to approve the agreement.
Opening the debate on a Government motion asking MPs to approve its deal with the EU, Mr Barclay said: “This House called for a meaningful vote yet today some who champion that now suggest it should delay longer still.
“I respect the intention of (Sir Oliver), who is someone who has supported the vote three times and has indicated his support today, but his amendment would render today’s vote meaningless. It’d cause further delay when our constituents and our businesses want an end to uncertainty and are calling for us to get this done.
“The public will be appalled by pointless further delay. We need to get Brexit done by October 31 so the country can move forward and I ask (Sir Oliver), in that spirit, to withdraw his amendment.”
Crossbench peer Lord Judge warned the Lords politicians need to be careful not to pave the way for “authoritarianism” by losing the public’s confidence.
He said lessons from history are “chilling”, and said parties on the right or left may take advantage of a lack of faith in public institutions.
Tory peer Lord Baker of Dorking paid tribute to Boris Johnson and said he had done well to get a deal which avoids a land border on the island of Ireland.
He said: “We’ve seen the remarkable transformation of the Prime Minister from being a bit of a buffoon to being a bit of a statesman.”
The Lord Bishop of Leeds, however, said: “We have been told lies, and there has been gross misrepresentation, including from the current Prime Minister when he was a journalist, on Brussels. And these, propagated through the media, have been allowed to go on.
“They have formed the way we see and understand Europe and ourselves and our role. And that raises a question about trust.”
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