Boris Johnson suffers another defeat as plot to block no-deal Brexit passes first hurdle

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
  • Brexit rebels win first Commons vote to block no deal

  • Vote to delay Brexit and rule out no deal expected around 9pm

  • Follows clash between Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn in fiery PMQs

  • Johnson on back foot following Tuesday night’s crushing defeat

  • PM raises eyebrows by swearing in the Commons and calling Corbyn a ‘big girl’s blouse’

  • And faces calls to apologise for Muslim ‘letterbox’ comments

Boris Johnson has suffered another defeat as the plot to block a no-deal Brexit cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons.

MPs voted by a margin of 329 to 300 to move a bill designed to force the Prime Minister to delay Brexit rather than taking the UK out of the EU without an agreement to the next stage.

The bill aims to extend the Brexit process beyond October 31 unless a deal is approved by Parliament, or Parliament agrees to a no-deal exit by October 19.

Speaking during the debate Philip Hammond, who was sacked from the Conservative Party yesterday for voting against the Government, insisted the bill is not about undermining the Prime Minister’s negotiating position or handing power to Labour.

He said: “I would sooner boil my head than hand power to the Leader of the Opposition.”

Boris Johnson no longer has a majority after one MP defected to the Lib Dems yesterday and a further 21 were sacked. (PA Graphics)

It comes after a fiery PMQs this afternoon that saw Mr Johnson brand Jeremy Corbyn a “chlorinated chicken”.

During an eventful first Prime Minister’s Questions for Mr Johnson, he swore openly – referring to Labour’s economic policy as “sh*t or bust” – and was accused by a Labour MP of making racist and derogatory comments.

Following a humiliating Commons defeat on Tuesday that forced him to hand control of the House’s agenda to MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit, Mr Johnson said the move would wreck any chances of reaching a deal with the EU.

Boris Johnson speaks during PMQs in the House of Commons, London. (PA)

But Mr Corbyn asked for evidence the PM was negotiating for a deal and not trying to “run down the clock”.

The Labour leader also pressed the Prime Minister to publish documents that are thought to show potential increases to food prices in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The PM insisted preparations for no-deal are “very far advanced”, before adding: “I know (Corbyn is) worried about free trade deals with America but there’s only one chlorinated chicken that I can see in this House and he’s on that bench.”

Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs. (PA)

Later, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labour MP for Slough, called for the Tory leader to apologise for referring to women who wear the burka as “letterboxes” and “ninjas” in his Daily Telegraph column in August, and asked the Prime Minister when he would order a promised inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

Labour MPs spontaneously clapped Mr Dhesi’s speech and shouted “shame” at Mr Johnson.

New day, new crunch vote

MPs are considering a bill to delay Brexit in order to prevent a no-deal withdrawal from the European Union on October 31.

How the Brexit showdown in parliament could unfold. (PA)

Mr Johnson has also been criticised for sacking 21 Tory rebels who voted against the Government on Tuesday.

MPs thrown under the bus by the Prime Minister include former Chancellor Philip Hammond, David Gauke and one-time leadership contender Rory Stewart – all of whom were serving in Theresa May’s Cabinet just weeks ago.

Party stalwarts Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames – grandson of Winston Churchill – were also dismissed.

Mr Stewart, who was a candidate in the recent Tory leadership race, said he was told about the decision to withdraw the whip by text message, and called it an “astonishing moment”.

Tory grandee Ken Clarke was among those who lost the whip. (PA)

He added: “It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries – one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one’s seat too.”

Former Tory ministers Greg Clark, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Alistair Burt, Sam Gyimah, Anne Milton and Caroline Nokes also voted against the Government.

MPs voted to take control of the order paper in the Commons (PA)

A general election also looms, after the PM confirmed he would seek a public mandate as he accused opposition parties and Tory rebels of “wrecking” chances of a deal with Brussels.

On Wednesday, he said: “Corbyn and his surrender bill would mean years of uncertainty and delay. I am determined to lead this country forward and take Britain out of the EU on October 31.”

Labour indicated it would not back an election – which would require the support of two-thirds of MPs – until no-deal Brexit was taken off the table.