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A guide to the different sorts of chaos looming over Westminster

31 August 2019

5:39 PM

31 August 2019

5:39 PM

What is going to happen next week in parliament? Most anti-no-deal rebels see it as their last opportunity to block Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, but what they haven’t yet agreed on is how best to do it. There are a number of likely scenarios, some of which intertwine with one another, and to show how chaotic the next few days are likely to be, I’ve drawn up a flowchart of how things might pan out (you can click on the image to view a larger version of the chaos):

The most likely parliamentary route is through an emergency debate under Standing Order 24, which the rebels hope they can use to seize control of the order paper. But that route alone is fraught with difficulty.


The bill might not get sufficient support, particularly given the threat to Tory MPs that James reports today. Boris Johnson could also thwart the progress of the bill at any stage – either before its Commons vote or when it is heading up to the Lords – by tabling a motion to call an immediate general election.

The greatest difficulty that the rebels face is that they don’t fully agree on how to approach this week, and have just hours before they need to settle on a solution. But if they do fail, and parliament is prorogued, then is there anything that MPs who want to stop no deal can actually do?

Currently, the main plan seems to be to set up an alternative parliament in Church House, something politicians from across parliament pledged to do this week. They feel it would have a historical resonance, given MPs met here during the second world war. Luciana Berger, one of the MPs who organised the Church House event this week, tells me that ‘we will decide on a course of action next week; as the declaration says we will do whatever is necessary to make sure our constituents’ voices are heard’.

But the government could dismiss this as being an elaborate stunt with no legal force while it gets on with the business of setting up an ‘ambitious agenda’ for the country and negotiating with EU leaders. It may end up being a symbol of how powerless the anti-no-dealers have rendered themselves, rather than a piece of effective direct action against the government. Either way, we can only be certain of one thing: next week in Westminster is going to be chaotic.


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