Brexit vote

MPs backed Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit timetable on Wednesday after she headed off a rebellion in her Conservative Party over a lack of insight into the government’s strategy to leave the European Union. May has come under pressure from MPs, businesses and investors to set out at least a broad picture of how she sees Britain’s future relationship with the EU. She says giving too much away could weaken Britain’s hand in the country’s most important negotiations since World War Two. After a sometimes rowdy session in parliament, MPs voted by 448 to 75 to support a motion calling on the government to offer up its Brexit plan, but also backed the government’s timetable to trigger the divorce procedure by the end of March.

BBC News
MPs have voted to back the government’s plan to start formal talks on Brexit by the end of March next year. They also supported a Labour motion calling for Parliament to “properly scrutinise” the government in its proposals for leaving the EU. The votes followed a compromise between Labour and the Conservatives, who had argued over the questions to be put. The House of Commons’ decisions are not binding on ministers.

ITV News
MPs have voted by a majority of 372 to back the Government’s plan to trigger Article 50 to begin the Brexit process by the end of March 2017. Announcing the vote in the House of Commons, Speaker John Bercow, said that 461 had voted in favour, while 89 had voted against it. MPs also voted in favour of a Labour amendment calling on the Government to publish its Brexit plan before formal talks begin no later than the end of March 2017.

Sky News
MPs have voted in favour of the Government’s timetable to trigger the formal process for leaving the European Union by March 2017, as long as the Prime Minister reveals her plan for Brexit. The symbolic motion, which is not legally binding, was approved by 448 votes to 75 – a majority of 373. Faced with a revolt by up to 40 Conservative MPs, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday bowed to pressure and backed a Labour motion which said she should publish a plan before triggering Article 50. In return, most of the rebels and Labour backed a compromise Government amendment to support Mrs May’s pledge to invoke Article 50 to start Brexit before 31 March 2017.

MPs have backed triggering Article 50 before 31 March 2017 by a landslide in a House of Commons debate. They voted 461-89 tonight for an amendment by Theresa May calling on them to back her deadline for starting Britain’s two-year EU exit. But they also backed a Labour motion saying she must publish her Brexit plan before that happens. The vote – claimed by both sides as a victory – was not binding on Parliament but was intended to send a signal to the British public. Those voting against were from the SNP and Lib Dems, plus some rebels from Labour. Some 23 Labour MPs voted against the motion and more than double that number abstained. The opposers included vocal Remainer David Lammy.

Labour was hit by a backbench revolt tonight when its attempt to force Theresa May to publish her Brexit plans sparked accusations it had fallen into a Tory trap. A total of 23 Labour MPs defied their party leadership – and dozens more abstained – because the vote also meant supporting the Prime Minister’s timetable for triggering the Article 50 exit notice. The clash came after the Government tagged on an amendment which meant MPs were also backing its policy to “invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017”. A string of Labour MPs rose to say this was a step too far – because No 10 has refused to say whether its “plan” will consist of any more than broadbrush aims. But, with cross-party backing, the amendment passed with an overwhelming majority of 372, to the delight of many Tories who saw it as a big political moment.

BREXIT has been given the green light in the House of Commons as MPs voted in favour of the government’s timetable to trigger Article 50 by 31 March 2017. The vote was passed by 461 to 89. It means that parliament is signed up to the principle of beginning Britain’s exit from the European Union next year. Those voting against were from the SNP and Liberal Democrats plus around 22 Labour rebels.There was one Tory who voted against – staunch “remainer” Ken Clarke. MPs also backed Labour’s motion, saying the government should publish a plan and it was “Parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the government”. That could be seen as a stepdown for Theresa May, who has so far stuck to her straightforward “Brexit means Brexit” mantra rather than going into detail. Labour’s motion was passed by 448 votes to 75 – a margin of 373.

A REMOANER plot to delay divorce talks with Brussels was crushed tonight as MPs overwhelmingly voted to support Theresa May’s timetable for triggering Article 50 by the end of March. In a landslide victory for Brexiteers a Government amendment binding MPs to respect the prime minister’s Brexit timetable in return for a greater role in the negotiations passed by 461 votes to 89. The history defining paragraph states that parliament “calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017” – effectively ending any Remoaner plot to indefinity delay divorce talks with Brussels. It also basically makes the current Supreme Court proceedings over whether or not Mrs May can trigger Article 50 without parliament’s consent redundant, because MPs are now signed up to starting the process anyway.

Brexiteers hailed a ‘historic moment’ tonight after the Government won an overwhelming majority to start the process of leaving the EU by the end of March. A total of 461 MPs backed a motion in favour of Theresa May’s timetable for Brexit, while a similar number of MPs backed a move requiring the Government to publish its Brexit plan before it triggers Article 50 – the formal process for leaving the EU. But remarkably, 89 MPs voted to block Brexit tonight, despite June’s referendum delivering a record 17.4million votes in favour of quitting the EU. The rebellion against Brexit was marginally higher than expected but the result delivered a major boost to the Prime Minister and represented the first ever Commons majority in favour of leaving the EU. It came after a heated debate on Brexit in the Commons chamber that lasted more than six hours.

Huffington Post
Some 89 MPs have refused to support the Government’s intention to start Brexit negotiations next year. A Commons vote saw Theresa May’s amendment to a Labour motion – agreeing that the Government must trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year – sail through by 461 votes to 89. A second vote, on a Labour motion calling on the Government to set out a Brexit “plan” before triggering Article 50, won by 448 votes to 75.

Supreme Court

Sky News
“Is it for us?” A four word question on the third day of the Supreme Court hearing. As innocuous as the question posed by Supreme Court Justice Lord Mance to Scotland’s Lord Advocate sounded, it belied something potentially far more significant. The context was the Scottish Government’s representative claiming that abiding by the Sewel Convention (that legislation affecting Scotland must have Holyrood’s consent) is a “constitutional requirement” for the purposes of Article 50. Lord Mance interjected: “It is a question of European law, isn’t it?” The Lord Advocate replied: “It is ultimately”.
 So the four word question, was one of the 11 Justices publicly pondering whether defining the phrase “constitutional requirement” was for “us” the Supreme Court, or for them, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. In theory, if the point is relevant to the case, the Court has an obligation to refer to Luxembourg. As I reported last month, the ECJ has been pondering whether it might get a referral for its “ultimate authority” on aspects of EU law.

THE SUPREME Court’s top judge yesterday openly questioned whether a second vote on triggering Article 50 is now needed – given last night’s show of hands in the Commons. Speaking just hours before MPs backed a Brexit, Lord Neuberger said it would “seem a bit odd” to the man in the street if MPs were asked to go back and do it all again. The comment came on the third day of the Supreme Court hearing into whether Theresa May must ask for Parliamentary backing before formally kick-starts EU divorce talks by invoking Article 50. The Government is challenging last month’s High Court ruling that it has to.


BBC News
Scotland’s top legal officer has said the Scottish Parliament’s consent is needed before the UK triggers Brexit. Lord Advocate James Wolffe said he was not arguing Holyrood had a veto, but said its consent was required because of the “significant changes” Brexit would make to its powers. He was speaking on day three of the Supreme Court battle over who can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Ministers say they can do so with without consulting Parliament. But campaigners dispute this, and earlier on Wednesday their lead lawyer said the government’s argument “violates” basic principles of constitutional law.


DONALD Tusk has issued a desperate rallying cry to European Union chiefs in a bid to stop Brussels infighting from stalling a promise to lift visa restrictions against Ukraine and Georgia. In a letter sent to Martin Schulz, the panicked head of the European Council urged the legislature to compromise with national governments to unblock visa liberalisation – currently stopping the former Soviet states from gaining easy access to Europe. The deal would allow a staggering 45million Ukrainians and five million Georgians to travel to Europe’s Schengen zone without applying in advance for visas. Mr Tusk wrote: “At stake here are the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the nations who are our neighbours, as well as the reputation of the European Union, which has categorically and repeatedly committed itself to the issue. “Even though all the parties in this debate have their own good arguments and undoubtedly good will, it seems we are getting close to squandering our joint efforts,” he added, saying failure to deliver would be “an unforgivable mistake.”

The EU unveiled its futuristic new 321-million-euro headquarters on Wednesday, saying it symbolised ‘joy’ at a time of rising populist anger against Brussels that helped lead to Brexit. A glass lantern-shaped structure inside a cube made of recycled window frames sourced from across the 28-nation bloc, the Europa building has been dubbed the “Space Egg” because of its otherwordly appearance. At its heart is a huge room decked out in psychedelic rainbow carpets and ceiling tiles where European Union leaders will hold their summit meetings on the multiple crises that beset the bloc. But the eco-friendly building has faced criticism for its high cost and delays at a time when cash-strapped EU member states are wrestling with spending cuts and Brussels is trying to cut waste.

Sleaford by-election

UKIP can “absolutely” gain a second MP as voters look to demand a “genuine Brexit” from the Government, the party’s candidate in a crunch by-election has declared. Lincolnshire county councillor Victoria Ayling will tomorrow seek to be elected MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham and is banking on a “gathering momentum” of support for Ukip to deliver a shock result. In a constituency that overwhelmingly backed Leave at the EU referendum on June 23, Ms Ayling has noted the Government’s “backsliding” over Brexit is “irritating so many people” in the area. Speaking to, Ms Ayling said: “People on the doorstep are really fed up, they don’t trust Theresa May, they don’t trust the Government.”

Nigel Farage has made a last-ditch bid to cause an upset at the Sleaford by-election – telling voters the contest is about Brexit. New Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will face his first big electoral test tomorrow at the by-election, which will choose the MP to replace Conservative Stephen Phillips. Mr Phillips, who supports Brexit but remaining in the European single market, stepped down citing “irreconcilable policy differences” with Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. He leaves the Conservatives with a huge 24,000 majority, with Labour and Ukip far behind in second and third place at the 2015 general election. Ukip will be hoping to do well in the seat, which is overwhelmingly eurosceptic and voted for Brexit, along with the rest of Lincolnshire, where it is located.

South Thanet

The Conservative Party are “bracing themselves” for criminal charges over the conduct of their campaign against Nigel Farage in the South Thanet seat during last year’s General Election. The party is accused of spending over the legal limit to contest the seat in a desperate bid to keep Mr Farage out of Parliament. In June, Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative who beat Nigel Farage in that election, failed to stop police extending the time available to investigate his election expenses. The Guido Fawkes blog says it expects the Conservative Party’s overspend in the seat to be the biggest by any political party in history, claiming the party spent over £200,000 to stop Mr Farage becoming an MP. The legal limit is £15,000. This overspend is potentially a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act.

Police abuse

ITV News
Hundreds of police officers have been accused of abusing their power to sexually exploit people, including vulnerable victims of crime. The damning report described the widespread nature of what they said was the “most serious form of corruption” and condemned forces for not taking more action to root out cases. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) identified 436 reported allegations of abuse of authority for sexual gain received by forces in England and Wales in the two years to the end of March. The allegations covered a total of 334 police personnel – 306 officers, 20 PCSOs and eight police staff. More than a third (39%) of the allegations involved victims of domestic abuse. Arrested suspects and people with drug or alcohol problems were also thought to be among those allegedly exploited. The watchdog said it was “likely” the problem was far worse.

Police forces have been ordered to review all complaints against officers in the past two years after a report revealed that hundreds had used their power for sexual advantage. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said that most forces in England and Wales were failing to treat sexual misconduct seriously enough, even though it was the gravest corruption issue facing the service. The watchdog uncovered more than 400 allegations of police abusing their power for sexual advantage in the 24 months to March. More than a third of the cases involved domestic violence victims. Its report said that the scale of abuse was even higher but remained hidden because allegations and outcomes were poorly recorded.

Hundreds of police officers are exploiting crime victims and witnesses for sex, a report reveals. At least 334 officers have been accused of abusing their power for sexual gratification in the past two years, but this is believed to be the tip of the iceberg. Predatory personnel taking advantage of vulnerable women by getting them to perform sex acts was the ‘most serious corruption issue’ facing forces in England and Wales, according to a police watchdog. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary rebuked forces over their efforts to root out depraved officers and ordered chief constables to ‘get a grip’ before public trust is ‘corroded’.

Biological terror

Plans have been drawn up to deal with a terrorist attack in Britain using biological weapons. The biological security strategy, which will also address natural outbreaks of diseases such as ebola, would be published “shortly”, an official report into UK defence and security said. “The strategy will set out how we will address the threat of natural disease outbreaks, as well as the less likely threat of biological materials being used in a deliberate attack,” it said. Launched with a foreword by Theresa May, the wide-ranging report set out plans to improve the government’s ability to respond to all forms of crises. It warned that the global terrorist threat was “more acute and complex” than ever.

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