Government whips can breath a sigh of relief. On what turned out to be the second late night sitting in a row for MPs, Andrea Leadsom’s motion to ensure that the government has a majority on public bill committees passed at 320 votes in favour to 301 against. This means that even though the government did not win a majority in the snap election, they will have a majority on key committees which scrutinise legislation.
In the debate before the vote, opposition MPs accused the Conservatives of an undemocratic power grab – with Labour’s shadow leader of the House, Valerie Vaz, likening Leadsom to a North Korean news reader sent out to say everything is fine. However, while the Opposition disapprove of the arrangement, the fact that the Conservatives managed to pass the vote (thanks to the support of the DUP) in the first place suggests that they do command a majority in the House.
Not that winning this vote was easy. The government was twitchy that they could lose – trying to push the vote until the late in the hope it would discourage opposition MPs from bothering to stick around.
So, does this mean it’s now all plain-sailing for the government? Unfortunately not. When I made this suggestion to a whip earlier this week, it was met with a laugh. While it certainly makes life a little bit less difficult, the whips will still have their work cut out. And judging by the number of amendments expected to be tabled to the next stage of the EU (withdrawal) bill, there are going to be a lot more late nights.
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