Profile picture
Ian Dunt @IanDunt
, 137 tweets, 13 min read Read on Twitter
Tight vote even on the timetable of debate on amendments. Govt wins by 321 to 304.
God it's going to be a long two days. Anyway we're nearly ready to go.…
They're going to kick off with amendment 110. This covers changes to the power of sifting committee for statutory instruments.
They'd have greater scope to ramp up parliamentary scrutiny of these weird little powers and would be able to demand greater democratic oversight rather than just recommend it.
You can read more about these dangerous powers, which are all over the bill, here…
Anyway, David Davis (DD) is now up. He says the Lords amendment undermines the purpose of the bill. A "threat to the whole process".
DD, who made his name presenting himself as a defender of ancient English liberties, argues for government power over parliamentary scrutiny.
DD says he won't give ground on setting Brexit day in the bill. Says it is "sensible" (in fact it undermines the government's negotiating position)
He now rejects amendment 10, 43, 45, which would change ministerial power on use of statutory instruments so they can only be used where "necessary" rather than "appropriate".
Again, he dismisses restrictions on ministerial power and rejects efforts to improve parliamentary scrutiny of the Brexit process.
Incidentally I'll be using this thread throughout this thing, so mute it if you don't want mortifying Brexit horror clogging up your TL.
Dominic Grieve (DG) up for first time. "I'm not sure I agree with him. All the examples he's given would meet the necessity test."
DD says "other lawyers disagree". Tiresome inane response. Ken Clarke (KC) gets up. "Can he possibly define 'appropriate' to me? Because I suspect it is one of those vague words that means if the minister wants to."
DD now on meaningful vote. Amendment 19, which sets timetable on vote for deal and says parliamentarian takes control if rejected. DD says it is "an unconstitutional shift".
He says it is not practical or appropriate. Chuka Umunna (CU) up. Says the amendment seeks to reassert parliamentary sovereignty.
Labour Leaver Frank Field up (FF). Says if Commons pass the amendment we'd be sending out "negotiators back naked". Dreadful dreary nonsense. But shows that hard rump of Labour Leave still set to go against whip.
DD says his alternate amendment (which is basically just 'we promise to tell you what we're doing after a month if we can get our shit together) is the better version.
(It is not the better option)
DD: "People keep using phrase 'meaningful vote' but what they mean in some cases is they want to reversel the referendum."
By the way I think DD right that Lords amendment is a massive constitutional shift - it's just that it is a shift in favour of parliament, in a process triggered by the demand for parliamentary sovereignty.
DD says that if parliament rejects the deal - "almost implausibly unlikely"- then govt would come back to Commons "and give House time to respond". Interesting.
DG tells DD in no uncertain terms that there must be a structure in place for no deal. And there won't be royal assent until they get it.
DD says he only read DG amendment this morning. Says he has open mind, but won't accept change in fundamental constitutional structure on govt responsibility for international treaties.
I'll now omit every time DD loudly shouts about people trying to reverse the referendum btw, because it is tiresome.
Says same point holds for amendment 20, which prevents statutory instruments being used until after parliament has approved withdrawal agreement.
DD sits down. Thank heavens. Boring old self-congratulatory windbag. Matthew Pennycook now up for Labour.
He'll says he'll skip most amendments and focus on meaningful vote.
Predictable, but Brexiters in parliament mostly using hysterical arguments about "frustrating Brexit" instead of addressing the specific concerns raised by the amendments.
Useful reminder by Pennycook that govt originally tried to prevent parliament getting any vote at all on the final deal. May only conceded this in January 2017.
Standard from Frank Field: "The aim [of the Lords] was to stop Brexit".
Matthew Pennycook has an extremely long face.
He makes the very good point that the amendment would not give parliament control over the negotiation, As DD said, but to direct.
Debate quite interesting now. Pennycook told that parliament could direct govt to re-enter the EU and that it is therefore a mechanism to frustrate Brexit TM.
He fumbles the case a bit, but it is of course true, it's just not what they're going to do.
"Are hon members really content that the sum of their role is to listen to a ministerial statement?"
Another Labour Leaver, John Mann, says negotiation can't be carried out by 650 MPs - public "want to see Brexit got on with".
He talks a load of absolute hogwash but more importantly, that's two Labour MPs who'll evidently go against the whip, plus, I presume, Kate Hoey. So three in total at least.
Pennycook moves onto other amendments - demand for a Brexit day in bill must go, he says - rightly points out it limits govt's own room to manouvre.
Labour also going to back the amendments on limiting ministers' use of statutory instruments.
Ken Clarke up and attacking the timetable.. "I've never known an issue of this importance being taken in this way."
Bill Cash: Does Clarke accept that effect of meaningful vote is to reverse Brexit? Clarke says that he doesn't accept another referendum.
Many ppl claimed Remainers should rule out trying to stay in EU to get a hearing in debate. This debate shows how wrong they were. Clarke can rule out another referendum as much as he likes. He's still told it's about frustrating the will of the people.
"We do actually need to take seriously what we are doing."
He mocks idea govt would need to give written statement in case of rejected deal. "It might even say 'dear House of Commons, get lost'."
Idea this would undermine govt negotiating hand is even sillier, he argues. Based on idea they Brussels doesn't know there is Cabinet confusion on Brexit.
"What they're watching is an attempt by the real zealots in this House to have parliament play any part in the process."
Suggestion here that meaningful vote rebellion cut off at the knees in hope govt will put Grieve amendment into bill in Lords…
David Davis didn't bother to stay for the rest of the debate. MPs complaining that no minister from DExEU actually in Chamber.
Backbench speeches start, limited to ten minutes. Edward Leigh goes first. Suggests the bill was supposed to transcribe EU law, but has been hijacked to influence negotiations.
Every intervention by John Redwood is so powerfully stupid I feel I become thicker by contact.
Leigh says DD believes Grieve compromise amendment just does same thing as Lords amendment in fewer words. Interesting, given what we're hearing about potential rebels being bought off.
Leigh shouts about "they decided too leave, the decision has been made", goes quite red in the face, seems highly excitable.
Brexiters very often talk about Remainers trying to refight the referendum. Honestly I don;t see a single one in the Commons doing that, but every single Leaver seems to be.
Leigh says meaningful vote would be a way to pave way for no-deal. Then "House of Lords could undermine process, block process....." on and on he warbles, increasingly insane.
Clarke gets up. "These are arguments he is putting with his usual great elegance but they are avoiding what we're really talking about."
Leigh says "this is the ultimate wrecking amendment - wrecking the will of the people, of democracy". He's off his tits.
Leigh admits there is a lot about the Brexit process he does not understand.
"Parliament! Don't stand against the people!" Implement their will." Very excitable. If you'd sat on the bench in front of him it'd have been like the first three rows of Sea World.
Vince Cable is up. I'm already feeling quite drowsy.
Dominic Grieve up. DD is back. Says his amendment is tabled with DD's interests at heart.
"I really am worried, the irrationality of the debate we are having on details of Brexit is truly chilling."
"If we don't achieve a deal at all, the fact is we will be facing a great crisis. I think it would be catastrophic. Question is how do we take sensible steps to anticipate that happening and make sure there is a process for dealing with it."
Rees-Mogg is up. Sounds like a very posh cat. Thhaaaank my honourable friend for givvving waaaaaaaay." Says the key aspect is on constitution. The rememedy of failure in negotiation is vote of no-confidence.
Grieve response: "Can you imagine a more chaotic process than an election weeks before we fall off the cliff edge?"
Justine Greening (first we've heard from here) says Mogg intervention actually shows why meaningful vote necessary.
Grieve says his compromise position makes life easy for govt by only giving parliament control in February, when everything's gone properly tits up, thereby giving them breathing room if their deal is rejected in November.
Govt is indicating in the Commons Chamber that it is willing to negotiate here. Grieves tells House not to dismiss him. But says if House makes concession of allowing dialogue to continue "it has got to be done in good faith."
Significant moment here. Grieves pushing the minister. Says this is not just about ministers updating House, it's about the November date for a vote and the February mechanism for shaping a no-deal crisis.
This is happening right here - the govt's attempt to close off the rebellion. Minister says Grieve comments would be formal basis for a structured discussion on this going forward. Grieve says it has to be a "proper understanding of the disquiet that is felt".
Solicitor general Robert Buckland was the one making the overture btw.
Govt atm hasn't really made any concession at all - just that Grieve amendment basis for future discussion. But they're fundamentally against the principleit tries to secure - that parliament gets a safeguard before no-deal takes place.
Hilary Benn on excellent form. Unlike customs union and single market, this is the only opportunity to give parliament a say on negotiations. "This is the one chance to exercise the authority that all of us believe properly lays in this House."
Now Anna Soubry. "This has got to stop. This is unseemly. This is the most important piece of legislation since WW2 and we sit here and we watch a form of horse trading."
She points out how rarely Grieve rebelled, compared to Davis or Leigh. "We here understand the concept of being loyal to leadership and true to your principles."
She looks at those "who have been lost from our deeply divided Cabinet", including Greening.
"It simply has to stop. I know the solicitor general is a man of great honour but with the deepest respect to him he is not the most senior person here today."
"Where is the secretary of state? All he has to do is accept the amendment of my right hon friend."
Extremely passionate speech by Soubry, as she notes one colleague had to have six undercover police at an event in case of violence.
Chris Leslie says he was fascinated by horse-trading moment earlier. Obvious solution is for govt to say it accepts the Grieve amendment, he argues.
Grieve says there's an issue. He says he accepts there may be tweaking to be done. But there needs to be "some certainty that the substance of this amendment" survives.
Bill Cash: "This is what people fought and died for which is who governs this country". Yeah he went there. After all, where else is there for his foolishness to go?
Cash asked: If House rejects the deal does it not have the right to tell the PM to go back and try again? Cash answers a different question: "I absolute reject that this House can go against the will of the people."
We often ask ourselves if they are stupid or cynical. With Cash I think I am on the side of stupid. Genuinely I think there is just a screaming in his head about the will of the people.
Regardless, he has nothing else to offer. You might as well as well ask a guinea pig to give its analysis of Kant's categorical imperative.
Phillip Lee is up. He says resigning was a difficult decision. "I am devastated. I owe this House an explanation."
"This is a matter of deep principle. I believe in the Burkian principle that our institutions guarantee our rights."
Both Soubry and Wollaston get up to congratulate him on his bravery. "A fake choice between a potentially bad deal and a cliff-edge no-deal is not a choice," he says.
He says his own constituency was not clear cut on Remain or Leave (it voted Leave at 57% I think).
This is gripping.
"I am incredibly sad I cannot reconcile continuing ministerial office... with my own integrity"
Applause in the Commons as he sits down.
Lead Remainers Grieve, Hammond, Neill & Soubry now with chief whip - vote coming up.
This is the moment we find out if Grieve et al think the govt are offering enough substance.
Kate Hoey is up and banging on. Very tedious, both in content and delivery. She is like a Spiked article in human form.
Mark Harper said stuff but he was so boring that my brain temporarily ceased to function.
Make no mistake, this really is a disgraceful debate. Many of the amendments are on the huge powers ministers have given themselves to do whatever they like to nearly half a century of law, with barely any scrutiny or oversight.
But they are going to be voted on with hardly even a mention. There wasn't time. Because the eye-wateringly short timetable only allowed MPs (rightly) to focus on the most important amendment of the meaningful vote.
Just unspeakable. One of the greatest shifts of power to the executive of our lifetime - probably, in sheer legislative quantity, the single greatest shift of power - and no time to even debate it.
Btw Charlie Elphicke just made one of the worst Commons speeches I've heard in years. Just a bunch of half conceived frothy babble.
Solicitor general comes back. Says particularly interested in parts A and B of Grieve amendment. B is the bit on a motion by November 30th. This is a shift from just part A.
This does not include the mechanism protecting against no-deal in February.
Antoinnette Sandbach (Tory) says she would have voted for Lords amendment on meaningful vote, if it wasn't for govt concession. Unclear exactly what that concession is or if it exists
OK debate over, there's division. They'll now start voting on the amendments - crucial constitutional amendments - which have been barely mentioned due to the timetable enforced by the govt.
This vote is on Amendment 110: Changes power of sifting committee for statutory instruments. They'd have greater scope to ramp up parliamentary scrutiny and would be able to demand it rather than just recommend.
Sounds like meaningful vote def going govt's way, but if rumours true, they seem to have conceded in a major way.
Amendment 110 REJECTED: Ayes 324 Noes: 302
Here is the Grieve amendment. Current understanding (lots of swirling accounts atm) is that govt has accepted A and B but not C
Some accounts now saying Commons could direct govt from November 30th - but that goes way beyond Grieve compromise and back to Lords amendment.
We're now on amendment 128, also on sifting committees. Expect a similar result.
Amendment 128 REJECTED : Ayes 325 Noes 304
Next up amendment 37 on whether a specified Brexit day should figure in the bill.
This is a very bad idea - it ties down government even if it needed a little flexibility at the final moment. Like taking the advantage of your negotiating partner and then beating yourself around the face with it.
Needless to say the Brexiters love it.
I think (fucking parliamentary procedure makes my brain hut) there are then two more votes on Brexit Day stuff, and then the one on a meaningful vote.
There are then a bunch of divisions on more statutory instrument amendments, but I suspect sifting committee loss points to direction of travel on those.
Amendment 37 REJECTED: Ayes 326 Noes 301
39 next then 125 - will be the same.
Think it's pretty clear that the only amendments with any chance of being voted for are customs union and meaningful vote - and I doubt either of those have much chance. Key will be what concessions are made to buy off rebels.
Nicky Morgan's name on that customs arrangement compromise today was pretty sad stuff - that's a meaningless fudge.
But customs matters less because it was anyway v.broadly worded and there are thougher customs amendments in trade & customs bills.
This bill isn't the last-chance saloon for the customs union. It is for meaningful vote.
If rumours true that govt only concession on meaningful vote is on parts A and B of Grieves then there are some limited concessions there.
For instance it is first moment that motion on Brexit deal has a date enshrined in law, for November 30th, rather than just relying on a Davis promise.
But it does nothing to give Commons right to direct what happens if deal rejected (except perhaps via an amendment to the motion).
That is a major step down from where we were last week, where I really thought it could be won on basis of Lords amendment, not a compromise on a compromise amendment.
Amendment 39 REJECTED: 324 Ayes 302 Noes
Amendment 125 next, another one on Brexit Day - this should be last before meaningful vote one.
Amendment 125 REJECTED: Ayes 328 Noes 297
OK we're on the meaningful vote amendment: Amendment 19.
If this is accurate it would suggest some quite impressive concessions - but again less than I would have expected, given rebels had the numbers to just back to the Lords amendment
Amendment 29 (meaningful vote) REJECTED: Ayes 324 Noes 298
Total cave in, not even close. Suggests rebels as one decided against it. We better hope they secured some impressive concessions.
(Btw I've stopped watching voting while I write about, so follow others for more dispiriting scores as they come in - I'll have a piece up soon.)
Right here's my take, finally, on what the buggering hell actually happened today
A bleak day in parliament but Grieve amendment could still prove crucial…
I'm disappointed that rebels didn't hold firm. They should have carried through the Lords amendment. But.
It looks like we'll have a date set in law for the vote on the deal. And that can be amended.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Ian Dunt
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!