A cross-party “Rebel Alliance” will today propose that the Government must seek a delay to Brexit unless a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU has been signed by the end of October. At 6:30pm today the “specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration” is expected to be tabled, with a vote now expected around 9pm that could allow the bill to then be pushed through the Commons tomorrow and the House of Lords on Thursday and Friday – just in time before the potential suspension of Parliament on Monday.
The key twist in this scenario is that if Boris loses control of Brexit to Parliament he has said he would call a snap election – seeing the defeat as undermining his negotiating position with the EU and a vote of no confidence in his Government. This would in-turn require Corbyn’s Party to be lured - by the prospect of winning a general election - into now voting in conjunction with the Brexit-arm of Conservative MPs to reach the required supermajority. Successfully invoking the Fixed Term Parliaments Act before the Brexit Rebel Alliance’s Bill reaches the statute book could mean a General Election on the 14th of October leaving the nation’s future in the hands of Corbyn (averting a no-deal), or Boris (presiding over a no-deal… or a miraculous renegotiated Withdrawal Agreement).
Rumours from cross-party talks with the Labour leader are that he would delay backing a general election until the Benn Bill has become law. This leaves Boris with one final option of conjuring a vote of no confidence against his own Government and conspiring to ensure no alternative was formed within 14 days. By falling on his sword in this way, Boris would force the party to pick a new Prime Minister to fight an early general election – whom he would hope will consummate his Brexit promises to leave the EU on the 31st of October with or without a deal.
Today’s discord within the leading party - notably Philip Hammond’s uncharacteristic interview invective this morning – has been one of the clearest demonstrations of the challenges ahead for a divided British politics and populous. Whilst the saga continues, it’s difficult to see how the country reverses the recent weaknesses in business confidence and economic growth.