WESTMINSTER turned into a tragic roundabout last night as politicians got stuck in a never-ending circle of Brexit votes, last-minute reversals and dashed hopes.
An array of naysayers came together to defeat the will of the people and thwart the PM’s timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Nine former Tories joined forces with Arlene Foster’s ten DUP MPs and the anti-Brexit opposition parties to end any chance of Britain leaving the EU by Halloween.
It followed weeks of delays including dozy ex-Conservative Oliver Letwin’s hold-up amendment last weekend, and Speaker John Bercow’s refusal to allow a meaningful vote on Monday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted MPs should not be “bounced” into a decision on Brexit — more than three years after the 2016 referendum.
And Lib Dem Jo Swinson flat-out insisted a deal would be bad for Britain.
It followed PM Boris Johnson being forced to send an unsigned extension letter to the EU because of Labour MP Hilary Benn’s blocking act.
The nine ex-Tory MPs who aligned with a rainbow coalition of Remain MPs were accused of “political fraud” last night.
‘THERE’LL BE NO PLACE TO HIDE’
They shamefully joined forces with the ten DUP MPs and walked through the voting lobbies along with anti-Brexit MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems and SNP.
Their decisive votes ensured the Government lost the crucial vote on the programme motion for the Commons to approve its Withdrawal Agreement Bill in three days this week — a fast-tracked process needed to keep the October 31 deadline alive.
Furious Conservatives laid into their former colleagues for enabling Remainers to delay Brexit again.
They warned they would never be forgiven for being responsible for the UK missing the last chance to get it over the line by the end of the month.
As tensions reached fever pitch in Westminster last night and with talk of a general election, Tory Brexiteers declared: “There’ll be no place to hide for them soon.”
Boris Johnson finally got backing for his deal but any chances of Brexit being delivered by Halloween were scuppered[/caption]
Nine former Tories committed ‘political fraud’ and joined forces with the DUP’s 10 MPs and the anti-Brexit parties to thwart the PM’s bill[/caption]
Senior Tory MP Nigel Evans stormed: “They’re using the smokescreen of delay and dilute in order to finally stop Brexit in its tracks.”
The group of ex-Tories — dubbed the “Brexit blockers” by their former colleagues last night — included five former Cabinet ministers.
Philip Hammond, who served as Chancellor as recently as July this year, was among them.
Ken Clarke, another former Chancellor, also voted against the Government.
Dominic Grieve, yet another serial rebel, accused the Government of bullying and “treating the House in an insulting way” with the fast-tracked timetable.
Former ministers Anne Milton, Justine Greening, Guto Bebb, Richard Harrington and Antoinette Sandbach were also among the former Tories who voted down the programme motion.
The final rebel was Mr Johnson’s former leadership rival Rory Stewart, who was keen to show off his pro-Remainer credentials to boost his chances of winning next year’s London mayoral election.
Mr Stewart insisted he was voting against the programme motion only because he wanted another four days of debate on the bill.
He insisted he just wanted the Commons to do the “very, very final stages” of Brexit “properly” and claimed it would be “stained by illegitimacy” unless he got his extra four days.
And he claimed he wanted the Commons to sit only until October 31 — sparking fury from Brexiteers who said this exposed his true intentions of wanting to frustrate Brexit until the only option was to reverse it.
BREXIT IN NAME ONLY
Nigel Evans blasted: “The ultimate aim of these Remainer MPs is to ditch Brexit and they’re going about it by demanding more extensions than a 1960s housing estate.
“All their arguments are just smokescreens. First of all it’s delay, delay and delay. Then if we do get a deal they’ll dilute, dilute, dilute.
“Finally they’ll want to go for a second referendum with the aim of ditching Brexit altogether.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn says MPs should not be ‘bounced’ into making a decision on Brexit[/caption]
“They will basically destroy Brexit into Brino — Brexit in Name Only — by demanding a customs union and outsourcing our trade deals to a foreign power.
“And then they’ll demand a confirmatory referendum where even they will want and recommend the people to ditch the Brino option completely.
“It is a political fraud and it’s being perpetrated by a Remain Parliament on a Leave Nation.”
But Mr Evans warned the Brexit blockers will be found out eventually when a general election finally gets triggered.
He warned: “A second referendum means they don’t have to put their jobs on the line but there’ll be no hiding when the election comes.
“And for Labour MPs in the north of England, their voters will be rubbing their hands waiting to tell their MPs what they think of them.”
Meanwhile, Brussels boss Donald Tusk paved the way for Remainer MPs to keep Britain in the EU indefinitely yesterday — as France threatened to veto another extension.
A second referendum means they don’t have to put their jobs on the line but there’ll be no hiding when the election comes.
He insisted the bloc would never turn down a request from Parliament to delay Brexit and bear the responsibility for Britain crashing out.
He made the remarks following a three-hour EU Parliament debate in Strasbourg, during which most MEPs called for more time to allow a second referendum.
The EU Council chief said: “I have no doubt that we should treat the British request for extension in all seriousness.
“We should be ready for every scenario but one thing must be clear — as I said to PM Johnson on Saturday, a No Deal Brexit will never be our decision.”
But he was immediately contradicted by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who said there was “no justification at this stage” for another delay.
Barnier: three-year wait
MICHEL Barnier was put in charge of trade talks with Britain yesterday — and warned they could drag on for three years.
The Frenchman, leader of new UK Taskforce, said it would mean extending the transition period to avoid No Deal.
He also warned MPs that the new withdrawal package struck with PM Boris Johnson was “the only possible agreement”.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told The Sun: “Barnier has trapped us into a horrible place and he will keep on turning the screw.”
MOST READ IN BREXIT
The senior ally of French president Emmanuel Macron fumed: “We’ve been waiting for three years for this decision.”
And the top eurocrat also warned MPs that their request for a further delay and the chaotic scenes in Westminster had made things “quite complex” for the EU.
In contrast to the French position, Germany has even raised the possibility of a long extension to hold an election or referendum.
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