Manchester: Confused about what’s unfolding by the hour in the United Kingdom’s parliament? Here’s an explainer of the latest developments
So, what’s just happened at westminster?
A majority of Members of Parliament in the UK House of Commons voted on Tuesday night by 328 to 301 to take control of the legislative agenda from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It means that opposition parties will be able to table legislation.
Why is it a big deal?
The cross-party majority intends to pass legislation to block the UK from leaving the European Union on October 31 unless a Brexit deal has been agreed. They want Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension to the deadline so that more negotiations can take place.
Johnson’s October 31 deadline
Johnson said he was taking the UK out “come what may” and reacted angrily to the move by MPs, expelling 21 Conservative MPs who voted against him.
So what’s Johnson’s plan?
He has warned there will be “consequences” for Tuesday night’s vote. Johnson says he will not go to Brussels seeking another delay because it would “hand control of the negotiations to the EU”. If the opposition bill is passed, he is proposing a general election for October 15.
So there’s a poll in mid-October?
Not necessarily. The UK now operates ‘fixed-term parliaments’ of five years. In order to collapse the House of Commons, a prime minister needs a two-thirds majority. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party will not vote for an election unless and until the bill against a no-deal Brexit passes.
The opposition doesn’t want an election?
Yes it does, just not before that no-deal Brexit bill becomes law. Johnson might actually find himself boxed in. He legally won’t be able to crash out of the EU on October 31 and he won’t be able to call an election.
What does the EU say?
It says it hasn’t had any new proposals from the Johnson government on how to get around the backstop — the guarantee that former PM Theresa May and the EU27 negotiated to keep the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland open and free for goods, services and people to move across.
What about prorogation?
Yes, Johnson has permission from Queen Elizabeth to shut down parliament for five weeks starting next week. And that’s why this crisis has come to a head right now. The no-deal Brexit bill is being rushed through now because those opposing a no-deal Brexit say it is the only way with the time left to make sure the UK doesn’t crash out without a deal come October 31.