MPs vote down early election motion – again

The House of Commons has again tonight voted down an early general election motion put forward by Boris Johnson with 293 in favour and 46 against. It needed two-thirds of MPs, 434, to pass.

When the Prime Minister tabled the same notion last week and it was put to a vote, 298 MPs voted in favour and 56 against.

Labour and SNP MPs were whipped by their parties to abstain tonight, while the Lib Dems were instructed to voted against. They were joined in the ‘No’ lobby by 23 Labour MPs.

While ex-Labour representatives Ian Austin and Ivan Lewis voted in favour of an early election, no current Labour MPs defied the whip to vote for one.

Opposition parties have agreed not to “fall into a trap” and resolved only to back a snap poll when the anti-no deal legislation requiring the Prime Minister to ask for another Article 50 extension has been implemented.

Labour and smaller parties are not expected to vote for a snap election before October 19th, at the earliest, which means likely not before 21st.

The early election debate was a particularly loud and lively one, taking place after another government defeat and an emergency debate on the rule of law proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act motion.

Thank you Mr Speaker. The only point of any importance that the Prime Minister has just included in his speech is his clear indication that he does not intend to follow the law that has just been passed, that requires him to ask for an extension under certain circumstances.

He also gave no answer to the two decisions this House has already made today concerning the publication of Yellow Hammer documents and his own behaviour as Prime Minister in respect of laws agreed by this House.

The Prime Minster has seemingly failed to grasp that the opposition benches have been very clear. The house, Mr Speaker has expressed its will until the Act has been complied with and no deal has been taken off the table, we will not vote to support the dissolution of this house and a general election.

The Prime Minister has seemingly failed to grasp that the Opposition benches have been very clear and the House has expressed its will. Until the Act has been complied with, until No Deal is off the table, we will not vote for an election.

I want an election. The Conservative Party has very generously broadcast footage of me and my friends saying we want an election. I do not retreat from that wish whatsoever. We are eager for an election.

But as keen as we are for an election, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of No Deal on our constituents. No Deal would have devastating impact on people’s jobs, living standards and on our industries and the economy.

No Deal would not be a “clean break”. It would not mean “just getting on with it”. It would start a whole new period of confusion and delay but this time set against the backdrop of rising unemployment, further deindustrialisation and deepening poverty.

We have no faith that the Government is seeking a deal in good faith. Indeed, the former Work and Pensions Secretary said in her resignation letter “I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective”.

EU leaders have received no proposals. Government ministers have offered no explanation of the deal they are seeking, let alone any worked out proposals, presented to Parliament for scrutiny. The only conclusion that can be reached, and it is backed up by leaked reports in the press last week, is that the Government’s pretensions to negotiate are a sham.

The Prime Minister knows there is no mandate for No Deal, no majority support for it in the country and no majority for it in this House. But he refuses to rule it out and refuses to set out any proposals to avoid it.

Many people, including the Rt Hon member for Hastings and Rye, are increasingly coming to the conclusion that No Deal is his only answer. But he has no mandate for that. The last general election gave no mandate for no deal. The 2016 referendum gives no mandate for that.

The co-convenor of the Vote Leave campaign said in March this year “we didn’t vote to leave without a deal”. He is now the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster. No Deal is opposed by every business group, every industry body, every trade union and it is opposed by this House.

We want an election. We look forward to turfing out this reckless Government that is driving up poverty, deepening inequality, scapegoating migrants, whipping up division and failing this country.

A general election isn’t something for the Prime Minister to play about with for propaganda points or even for poor quality posts on social media. Perhaps the Prime Minister can answer some questions:

  • Firstly, where are his proposals for renegotiations?
  • Secondly, if he seeks a No Deal why doesn’t he argue for it and seek the mandate for it that it so far does not possess?
  • Thirdly, if he is “making progress” as he told this House last week, why did the Irish Taoiseach tell the Prime Minister this morning he was yet to receive “realistic, legally-binding and workable” plans?
  • And finally, since he didn’t bother to turn up for the previous debate, will he respect the law and implement the EU Withdrawal No.6 Act if he has negotiated an agreement backed by this House by 19 October?

This Parliament is not a platform for the Prime Minister’s games. It is chamber in which the people’s representatives hold the Executive to account. The Prime Minister has been asked four simple questions. He should provide four simple answers.

Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister is talking up No Deal to one wing of his party and talking up getting a deal to another wing of his party. The sad reality is he is not preparing adequately for the first and not negotiating adequately for the second.

This Prime Minister’s obfuscations and evasions are being rumbled at home and abroad and that is why he doesn’t answer questions is so keen to avoid scrutiny.Tonight, he will be attempting to prorogue Parliament, shutting down Parliament, shutting down democracy and taking this country over a cliff of a No Deal exit. Mr Speaker, we are not walking into traps laid by this Prime Minister.

More from LabourList