In a development that would be mocked if a fiction writer made it up, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock’s amendment to the bill designed to stop a no-deal Brexit has been passed by accident by MPs – because those against it forgot to put up tellers to count their votes.
The effect of Kinnock’s amendment – which is now part of the bill – is to pass Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.
The government is trying to save face by claiming it was done to prevent parliamentary time being used on a second referendum – however, the three-month extension involved would never have been enough to hold a referendum anyway. Johnson is scrabbling to cover his embarrassment for the second time this week.
Pro-referendum MPs are reportedly saying they will still support the bill, describing the amendment as an ‘irritant’.
In any event, the disruption – whether accidental or not – has failed from Boris Johnson’s point of view, because the bill has just passed its third reading. If the House of Lords votes to remove the amendment, it has to come back to the Commons and ‘parliamentary ping-pong’ begins.
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