Yesterday Parliament voted to take control of the parliamentary agenda. The Government was defeated by 328 to 301 with 21 Conservative MPs voting against the government – even despite threats of having the whip withdrawn and being deselected by the Government.
A number of prominent Conservative Backbenchers spoke forcefully about their treatment by the Government:
“If he [the PM] thinks the device of withdrawing the whip this evening is going to change my mind or that of my right honorable friends, he has got another thing coming. It will be treated with the contempt it deserves”
During the debate Jacob Rees-Mogg was criticized for treating Parliament with derision by taken up a sedentary position:
This led to a number of humourous memes:
Yesterday’s motion means that today the House of Commons could introduce a bill to prevent the Government taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. This occurred with the bill passing all three readings in the House of Commons and it now goes to the House of Lords.
Constitutionally, yesterday’s vote was extremely significant and was a rare example of an emergency debate under Standing Order 24. Standing Orders are the procedural rules that the House of Commons follows. These rules are decided by the House and can be amended by the House.
Standing Order 24 allows for an MP to apply to the Speaker of the House of Commons for an emergency debate.
It is up to the discretion of the Speaker as to whether or not the debate should be granted and this is a high bar. Since 1979 there have been around 50 debates under the order.
It now a seems likely that the bill will pass and we move on to the next stage in the drama. The PM confirmed he would bring forward a motion under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (2011) to hold an early General Election, but, incredibly, it appears the the opposition will vote against it, saying they will not call an election until the no-deal bill has passed.