Backbench bid to further delay Brexit clears Commons to Brexiteer anger

PUBLISHED: 07:39 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:31 04 April 2019

DUP Emma Little-Pengelly photograph of speaker John Bercow. Photograph: DUP/PA.

DUP Emma Little-Pengelly photograph of speaker John Bercow. Photograph: DUP/PA.

Proposals to further delay the date of Brexit have moved closer to becoming law after they squeaked through the House of Commons by one vote.

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MPs supported the bill at third reading by 313 votes to 312.

The draft legislation tabled by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper requires prime minister Theresa May to table a motion seeking MPs’ approval for an extension to the Article 50 process beyond April 12 to a date of her choosing.

It is part of a parliamentary bid to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU.

Tory Brexiteers strongly opposed the measures and, shortly before the final vote, they expressed their frustration at the bbill clearing all stages in the Commons in a matter of hours.

Peter Bone urged speaker John Bercow to “make this farce stop” and prevent further votes.

But there were cheers in the chamber when the result was revealed at almost 11.30pm, after the legislation passed through all stages in the Commons in a single day.

Speaking after the result Cooper said it has been a “very considered and thoughtful debate throughout”, and that MPs had “voted again to make clear the real concerns that there would be about a chaotic and damaging no deal”.

She said the bill would “support the Prime Minister’s commitment to make sure we don’t end up with no deal on April 12”.

Cooper added: “I’m sure that we will be very keen to work with government to make sure that this legislation progresses in a way that is sensible and works in the national interest.”

But Tory MP Mark Francois reacted to the bill’s passing with anger, calling it a “constitutional outrage”.

The leading Brexiteer said it had been “rammed through in four hours”, and then quoting from the bible, added: “The public won’t be impressed by this. Forgive them father they know not what they do.”

The bill will now undergo further scrutiny in the Lords at a later date, potentially as early as Thursday.

A government spokesman said in a statement: “We are disappointed that MPs have chosen to back this bill.

“The prime minister has already set out a clear process through which we can leave the European Union with a deal and we have already committed to seeking a further extension.

“If passed, this bill would place a severe constraint on the government’s ability to negotiate an extension and reflect this new date in UK statute books before April 12.”

Earlier in the evening MPs delivered a first tie in a Commons vote since 1993 as a proposal to allow a third round of indicative votes on Brexit alternatives was rejected.

They voted by 310 to 310 on Labour MP Hilary Benn’s amendment, with speaker John Bercow casting his vote, in line with precedent, with the noes.

This meant Benn’s amendment was defeated by 311 votes to 310, majority one.

Benn’s amendment was connected to a motion outlining the timetable for the latest backbench takeover of the Commons agenda.

His proposal sought further Brexit indicative votes on Monday April 8.

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