Closed Boris Johnson snap election bid blocked after MPs vote to stop no-deal Brexit – as it happened

Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London

A live blog from FT.com


Another big day at Westminster

MPs prepare to vote on emergency legislation that aims to block a no-deal Brexit. This could herald a general election.

So, to round up what was a momentous day in the House of Commons yesterday:

- MPs seized control of parliament and the Brexit agenda
- Prime minister Boris Johnson lost key vote by 328-301 (52:48) and his majority
- Twenty-one Tory MPs, led by chancellor Philip Hammond, defied their party and backed moves to pass an emergency law to stop a no-deal Brexit
- The 21 have been kicked out of the party
- ‘Rebel alliance’ includes Tory, Labour and other opposition MPs
- To call an election Mr Johnson would need the support of two-thirds of MPs under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2011
- Boris Johnson lost his majority when former minister Phillip Lee crossed the floor and defected to the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats


A quick reminder:
Here’s the list of 21 Tory MPs who defied the government in last night’s vote. It includes many heavy hitters such as former chancellors and cabinet ministers:

The 21:
Guto Bebb
Richard Benyon
Steve Brine
Alistair Burt
Greg Clark
Kenneth Clarke
David Gauke
Justine Greening
Dominic Grieve
Sam Gyimah
Philip Hammond
Stephen Hammond
Richard Harrington
Margot James
Oliver Letwin
Anne Milton
Caroline Nokes
Antoinette Sandbach
Nicholas Soames
Rory Stewart
Edward Vaizey


Pound rallies hours after government loses vote

Sterling recently rebounded above $1.21 in early London trading, hours after MPs defeated Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit plan and took control of the House of Commons.

The UK currency was up 0.3 per cent against the dollar at $1.2125 early on Wednesday. Against the euro it picked up slightly with a 0.2 per cent rise to €1.1036.

The prime minister late last night lost the vote 328-301 as Conservative rebels and opposition MPs joined forces. This potentially leaves Britain on the brink of a snap general election. The pound yesterday tumbled to a three-year low, dropping below the $1.20 level, on a tumultuous day at Westminster.

“Anyone hoping that this week will bring more clarity might well be disappointed,” says Commerzbank’s Antje Praefcke. “The market does not really know what to make of all this uncertainty. It is caught between hope and trepidation so that sterling is holding up quite well.

“I can nonetheless only repeat: the risk of a no-deal Brexit remains in place and hedging the side that is most painful continues to make sense,” she added.


Labour says it won’t back plan for snap election

Boris Johnson’s plan to hold an early general election as an escape route out of Westminster’s paralysis was undermined on Wednesday morning when the opposition Labour party confirmed it would not back the move, writes Jim Pickard.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has said repeatedly that he wants to hold a general election.

But last night he seemed to suggest that his party would not support any such move until and unless the legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit has passed through parliament.

This morning that position has been further crystallised after Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour would not be voting for an early election. The opposition party is wary of a trap whereby an election would be triggered but then Mr Johnson would seek to move the date until after October 31, allowing the UK to “crash out” of the EU without a deal.

“We are not voting for a general election today,” Sir Keir told Sky News. “We are not dancing to Boris Johnson’s tune. If Johnson says the election will be on 15 October no one trusts him.”

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, also said her party would not back an early general election at this stage.


Booted out by text

Rory Stewart, who had the whip withdrawn last night after voting against the government, said he learnt that he would be expelled from the Tory party by text message, reports Eoin McSweeney.

“This is not a Conservative way of behaving,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.


Westminster reels while Clarke says Tories are now ‘the Brexit party rebadged’

Westminster is still reeling from Boris Johnson’s decision to remove the whip from the 21 MPs who rebelled last night, writes Jim Pickard.

Among them are eight former cabinet ministers including Philip Hammond, who was chancellor of the exchequer until only a few weeks ago.

For many of the rebels, who have been Conservative MPs for years, it’s a moment of personal anguish.

Rory Stewart, former international aid secretary and one of 21 rebels who will now lose the whip, said he would seek re-selection as a Conservative MP from his local constituency.

Mr Stewart said that leaving the EU without a deal was the wrong thing to do: “To deliver Brexit like this is to create a poison pill which for 40 years will divide this country straight down the middle.”

David Gauke, former justice secretary, struck a more phlegmatic note, saying on Twitter: “Oh well. These things happen.”

Ken Clarke, the veteran former chancellor who will also be thrown out of the party, said he no longer recognised his own party: “This leader, I don’t recognise this. It’s the Brexit Party, rebadged…the most rightwing cabinet any Conservative party has ever produced. They’re not in control of events.”


Shadow Brexit secretary says Johnson has ‘no mandate’ for no-deal

Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson had “no mandate” to leave the EU without a deal on October 31, reports Jim Pickard.

“Rather than coming to parliament and saying ‘this is my proposal’… he has taken the opposite approach which is ‘I will shut down parliament’,” the shadow Brexit secretary told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme .

There has been a revolution in recent weeks to stop him taking that destructive path. We have a carefully constructed plan … and we’re not going to be deflected from that.

Opposition MPs did not trust the prime minister and did not believe a word he said when it came to guaranteeing the date of a general election, said Sir Keir.

Having taken control from Boris Johnson last night we’re not going to give control back to him … it’s a trap.

The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour and other opposition parties could still deploy a vote of no-confidence in Mr Johnson in the coming days – once the bill blocking a no-deal Brexit has passed.

Meanwhile, Eoin McSweeney reports that Ian Blackford of the Scottish National party echoed Sir Keir’s sentiments on Sky News: “Boris Johnson can’t be trusted.” Mr Blackford said a no-deal Brexit must be removed as an option before the SNP agrees to a general election.


Pound rally picks up momentum

That pound rally is really gaining pace right now, reports Cat Rutter Pooley. We’re up more than 0.5 per cent for the day against the dollar at $1.2148. Just a reminder of where we stood yesterday – sterling sank as low as $1.1957.


Don’t forget today’s spending review – plus the rest of the day’s events

Today will see not only the first spending review by the Johnson administration – including an extra £2bn for Brexit preparations, writes Jim Pickard. In the afternoon MPs will vote on the second reading of the bill that forces Boris Johnson to seek a delay to Brexit.

One amendment put forward is an attempt to revive Theresa May’s deal, led by Labour MP Stephen Kinnock – who did not vote for it in the spring.

The bill is set to move to the House of Lords as early as Wednesday night.

Mr Johnson’s motion for an early election, which now appears to be doomed, is likely to take place at about 9pm on Wednesday. He needs 424 MPs to back him to succeed, which appears impossible without Labour support.


Ruth Davidson on Nicholas Soames exiting Tory party

Ruth Davidson, who last week quit as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, tweeted this on Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill:


Labour tells donors the battle ‘is on’

Cat Rutter Pooley writes:

“It’s on!” says Labour in a fundraising email this morning (it’s not wrong about that).

Labour is calling on members to “Stop No Deal and win a Labour Government”.

“Last night’s victory was a vital step in preventing a disastrous No Deal Brexit. And once that is secured, we’ll head towards a General Election,” it says.


Merkel ally says Brussels ready for no-deal Brexit

Elmar Brok, a member of Germany’s Christian Democratic Unionist party who is close to German chancellor Angela Merkel, has said the EU is “prepared for a no-deal Brexit”, reports Eoin McSweeney.

Mr Brok poured cold water over the all-Ireland food standards zone Boris Johnson briefly mentioned in parliament yesterday as a solution to the Irish backstop issue.

“The backstop is one of the principles we have in order to defend the integrity of the internal market and defend the interest of Ireland,” Mr Brok told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

Food products from a non-member state must be checked at the point of entry, according to EU rules.


Emoticon
UK’s PMI for services falls in August

The IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index for services in the UK, a vital gauge for economic sentiment, fell to 50.6 in August from 51.4 in July, worse than expected from a Reuters poll of analysts who had forecast 51.0.

A reading above 50 indicates that a majority of businesses reported increased activity. The services sector accounts for about 80 per cent of the UK economy.


YouGov poll points to losses for Scottish Tories and SNP landslide

The Scottish Conservative party, which was so crucial to Theresa May’s majority in parliament, looks set to lose 10 of their 13 seats should a general election be held, according to a YouGov poll conducted for The Times.

The Scottish National party would be expected to secure 51 seats, 16 more than in 2017, the poll showed, reports Eoin McSweeney.


Scottish court rules that Johnson’s planned suspension of parliament ‘lawful’

Edinburgh’s Court of Session said, in a first ruling against a legal effort by more than 70 parliamentarians to block Prime Minister Boris Johnson from suspending parliament, that the prorogation is lawful, reports Mure Dickie in Edinburgh.

An appeal of Wednesday’s decision by Judge Lord Doherty is likely to be heard by the court’s higher Inner House on Thursday with further appeals set to go to the UK Supreme Court.

Lord Doherty said the prorogation plan was a matter of “high policy and political judgment” and not one for courts to decide.

The executive was accountable to parliament and the electorate for the prorogation decision, he said. “It is for parliament to decide when it will sit and it routinely does so.”


Pound rally accelerates ahead of pivotal day in Westminster

A rise in sterling is picking up steam as an alliance of rebel MPs seeks to pass legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit next month.

The pound is currently up 0.61 per cent against the dollar at $1.2158. It’s a big difference from yesterday, when the currency slumped below $1.20 to hit its lowest level since a flash crash in October 2016.

Derek Halpenny, strategist at MUFG, is sceptical:

So GBP has bounced on the damage done last night to PM Johnson’s Brexit strategy. That’s understandable and is certainly a blow for the government but PM Johnson and Dominic Cummings have a clear strategy of going to the people to seek a mandate for a no-deal Brexit and that election is going to happen – so no-deal Brexit risks haven’t shifted much in our view.


How we think today will play out

This is how the FT’s Westminster team thinks the big day will play out, compiled by Edwin Esosa:

12pm: Boris Johnson’s first Prime Minister’s Questions
12.45pm-3pm: Chancellor Sajid Javid announces spending review
3pm-9pm: Rebel alliance aims to push through legislation to block no-deal Brexit in October
9pm: Boris Johnson moves to dissolve parliament as he pushes for snap election

*All times BST


Opinion: Boris Johnson is taking a high-stakes gamble

FT editorial director Robert Shrimsley weighs in:

Boris Johnson’s place in political history is assured, although it will be a few more weeks until we know whether it is the place he would have wanted. By pursuing a high-stakes confrontational approach from the moment of winning the Conservative leadership, Mr Johnson has driven the country to the brink of an October election that ensures he will either be the UK’s shortest-serving prime minister or the man who broke the parliamentary logjam to deliver Brexit. Whatever else, Mr Johnson has not been timid.

After two years of parliamentary stasis British voters are going to be faced with an election that will transform Britain. It is an election that will determine not only the future of Brexit, but of the Union too. Voters are in effect being forced to choose between Mr Johnson and the serious possibility of a no-deal Brexit or Jeremy Corbyn’s radical left agenda. It is going to be a painful contest for those who think of themselves as centrists.

Mr Johnson had little choice. He has lost his majority and lost control of the Brexit process. The proposed legislation blocking no deal left him unable to negotiate with the EU. An election was the only way forward.

Read the full Instant Insight here.


Brussels to put out ‘final call’ for no-deal Brexit preparations

A European Commission spokeswoman said that Brussels was today issuing a “final call” to businesses to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, and that it had updated its emergency planning, reported Jim Brunsden in Brussels.

The spokeswoman said that commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had debriefed his team today about the state of play on Brexit. “He recalled that it’s the UK’s responsibility to come forward with concrete proposals that are operational and also compatible with withdrawal agreement,” she said.

There may be twists and turns and political developments in London right now, but our position is stable.

We are willing to work constructively with prime minister Johnson and willing to look at any proposals he may have as long as they are compatible with the withdrawal agreement.

The no-deal plans published by Brussels include unlocking EU natural disaster funding to help countries cope. Brussels has updated contingency measures dealing with UK budget contributions, access to fishing waters, as well as road and air travel.

David Frost, the UK’s Brexit negotiator, is in Brussels for talks today. The commission spokeswoman said that Brussels is yet to see convincing alternatives for dealing with the Irish border.

“The backstop provided for by the withdrawal agreement is the only solution identified that safeguards the Good Friday Agreement, that ensures compliance with international law obligations and preserves the integrity of the single market.”


Prime Minister’s Questions starts in 5 minutes

Brace yourselves! The parliamentary action is about to kick off in earnest for the day. Boris Johnson’s big debut at Prime Minister’s Questions is just five minutes away.


Labour’s dilemma: When to call a snap election?

The big dilemma for Labour now is whether and when to back an early general election, perhaps through a vote of no confidence – assuming the legislation blocking no deal goes through, writes Jim Pickard.

Some people in the leader’s office want to move fast and try to secure an October election. But a special meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party has just broken up in one of the committee rooms in the House of Commons. The near-unanimous view of the room was that Jeremy Corbyn should hold off on a snap election until after November.

Mr Corbyn may disagree. But in the words of one figure: “They (MPs) are the ones who have the vote.”


Gilts retreat as yields come off historic lows

UK government bond prices retreated, following yesterday’s rally, as rebel MPs grasp the initiative and look to block a departure from the EU next month without a deal after the prime minister’s humiliating defeat last night at the hands of the House of Commons.

The yield on the 10-year gilt rose 8 basis points to 0.486 per cent at midday, up from the historic low of 0.341 per cent that it touched yesterday. Prices move inversely to yields.

Sterling was 1 per cent higher against the dollar at midday, 0.7 per cent higher against the euro, while the FTSE 100 index was up 0.3 per cent.


PMQs has now started

Boris Johnson says there is only one thing standing in the way of the UK leaving the EU on October 31. That is the “Surrender Bill” being proposed by Jeremy Corbyn. He’s asked the opposition leader to confirm that if that Bill is passed he will allow an election to go ahead on October 15.


Emoticon UK pound races higher to $1.22

The pound is zipping more than 1 per cent higher as concerns over a potential no-deal Brexit as soon as October fade … at least for the moment.

Sterling crossed $1.22 around lunchtime in London. It had drooped on Tuesday morning to just below $1.196, the lowest level since a flash crash in 2016. The currency has not regularly traded below $1.20 since the mid-1980s.

Boris Johnson’s defeat in parliament late last night has helped to soothe jitters that the UK is headed for a chaotic break with the EU in just a few weeks. However, many currencies analysts remain sceptical. Options markets, where investors speculate on or hedge against moves in sterling, suggest traders are still braced for significant volatility in the coming months.

Mr Johnson has just begun speaking in parliament – you can bet market participants will be watching closely.


PMQs: ‘Dither and delay’ is the new ‘strong and stable’

Boris Johnson is making “dither and delay” his catchphrase to describe Labour’s policy on Brexit as he pushes the Labour leader to commit to an October 15 general election.

Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile is using his questions to ask about the status of Brexit talks with the EU. Mr Johnson says that Mr Corbyn is “undermining” negotiations — but Mr Corbyn says it is hard to undermine something that’s not taking place.

Mr Corbyn has called on Mr Johnson to publish the Project Yellowhammer no-deal documents in full.


PMQs: SNP Westminster leader says Johnson behaving ‘more like a dictator than a democrat’

Ian Blackford says (quotes via Twitter): “Today, we have seized back control from a prime minister who is behaving more like a dictator than a democrat.”

He adds: “This isn’t Parliament versus the people, it is Parliament standing up for the people.”

Asked if he is a democrat, Mr Johnson says yes. He says the SNP are trying to distract from their “appalling domestic record”.


PMQs: Johnson reprimanded by Speaker for breaking parliamentary decorum

It’s his first PMQs, so maybe Boris Johnson could be forgiven for forgetting his parliamentary manners.

But Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is having none of it. You aren’t allowed to refer to MPs by their names in the Commons, and Mr Johnson gets reprimanded for referring to Jeremy Corbyn by name rather than Leader of the Opposition or Member for Islington North.

Mr Johnson is not bothered. PMQs have now long been more about the soundbites each side can generate for their social media campaigns than about the debate in the Commons.


The pound gets its mojo back … for now

The FT’s Katie Martin has more details on today’s jump in the pound:

The pound is back. A bit.

The currency took a heavy knock earlier this week on rising concerns that the UK will drop out of the EU without a deal. But since Boris Johnson’s Conservative party lost its majority in parliament yesterday, and MPs voted to open the way to legislate against leaving the EU without a deal, the currency has rebounded.

This suggests that however it is achieved (even potentially including a government led by Jeremy Corbyn), market participants are minded to cheer anything that brings the country back from the brink.

Many analysts still struggle to see a solid bullish case for sterling, however.

As Michael Emery at Rabobank put it:

The UK is once again close to saying they don’t want no deal; and this same House of Commons has already shown three times that it doesn’t want That Deal Already Offered, and the EU has made clear that as things stand, it is deal or no deal. So at best we are still stuck in a confidence-sapping limbo.”

Mr Emery described it as “total political meltdown in the UK”.


Normandy expects freight ‘thrombosis’ in France in no-deal Brexit

A no-deal Brexit would trigger a freight traffic “thrombosis” in northern France, at least for a few days, according to Hervé Morin, president of the Normandy region.

But Mr Morin added there would be opportunities for Normandy ports such as Cherbourg in gaining traffic between France and Ireland that has until now mostly passed through the UK “land-bridge”, reports Victor Mallet in Paris.

The Normandy pharmaceutical sector, which depends on the UK for some of its raw materials, needed to build stocks to prepare for a Brexit “that would be an absolute thrombosis if we headed for a hard Brexit, at least for a few days – there’s no point denying it,” he told BFM Business television.

It’s all very well having made preparations, and organised traffic flows, it’s clear that all the economic players, especially the British, need to take on all the administrative and customs processes that a return to frontiers will mean.

This will create disruption in the car industry, aeronautics and pharmaceuticals – in short in all the sectors where there were daily exchanges between the UK and France and Europe.

He added: “For Normandy, there is also the possibility of gaining important traffic flows from Ireland.”


Who was Lord Rosebery, the last PM to lose his opening Commons vote…?

Boris Johnson is fielding his maiden PMQs session after becoming the first prime minister to lose his opening House of Commons vote since Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, who was in office for just a year from 1894 to 1895.

So how did Lord Rosebery’s premiership go, you are almost certainly wondering…?

From an economic point of view, quite well actually, according to Professor Costas Milas of Liverpool University:

“Over that period, long-term UK government yields dropped from 2.57% to 2.38% whereas the unemployment rate dropped from 6.61% to 6.34% and the stock market went up by 10.42%”

“Let’s see how long Boris Johnson lasts and what his impact on the economy will be.”


Sturgeon: ‘Starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all’

The SNP leader is needling the Labour party over its refusal to vote for an election.

“Not allowing Johnson to cut and run for an election simply as a tactic to force through a no-deal Brexit is one thing,” Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted.

“But it’s starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all…and leaving this PM in place knowing he’ll try every trick in book to get what he wants would be irresponsible.”


PMQs: Session ends with clapping in defiance of Johnson

MP Tan Dhesi asked the prime minister when he would apologise for “derogatory and racist” comments about Muslim women – a reference to Boris Johnson’s column that compared women wearing the veil to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

Loud applause. Mr Johnson says it was a “strong liberal defence of everyone’s right to wear whatever they like in this country.”


Spending Review: Javid on his feet

The chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid has begun presenting his spending review, outlining the government’s budgetary plans for 2020-21.


Spending Review: Javid indicates pre-election spending spree

Sajid Javid at the start of the spending review indicates quite a pre-election spending spree, saying he was “turning the page on austerity” and laying the foundation for “a decade of prosperity”, reports the FT’s Chris Giles.

He added that the spending review would have plans for the first year outside the EU in 2020-21 with the “fastest increase in spending for 15 years”.


Spending Review: Javid will ‘co-ordinate’ policy with BoE

Sajid Javid breaks with convention by saying that he would “co-ordinate fiscal and monetary policy” with the Bank of England.

That is quite a change, says Chris Giles, showing the Treasury is worried about a severe downturn after a no-deal Brexit.


Speaker Bercow lays into chancellor

John Bercow has now reprimanded Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, twice over the contents of his Spending Review statement in parliament.

Mr Bercow is cross because the chancellor is speaking on matters not even “tangentially” connected to the Spending Review.

Update at 1.18pm: Mr Javid has just got to the detail of the Spending Review. Cue much jeering from MPs about the amount of waffle so far.


Spending Review: ‘We can invest more’ says Javid

“We can afford to turn the page on austerity and move from a decade of recovery to a decade of renewal,” says Sajid Javid.

He justifies greater spending on the grounds of low interest rates, writes Chris Giles. Signalling much higher borrowing to come, the chancellor said: “My judgment is that with a strong fiscal position and low cost of borrowing, we can invest more.”

To do this in a Budget after an election if the Conservatives win, Mr Javid said he would review the current fiscal rules that limit borrowing to 2 per cent of national income.


Spending Review: £13.8bn boost for government departments

The top line increase in day-to-day spending for government departments in 2020-21 is £13.8bn or 4.1 per cent, writes Chris Giles.

Sajid Javid correctly says this is the “fastest increase in spending in 15 years”.

For the home office, the increase is 6.3 per cent in real terms.


Spending Review: £1.5bn sticking plaster for social care

Another £1.5bn sticking plaster for social care – “a downpayment on the more fundamental reforms the prime minister will set out in due course”, the chancellor says.

Government has not decided what it wants to do with social care yet, despite early activity in this area. So it’s a sticking plaster for now.


Can Javid meet fiscal rules with spending boost?

The director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies has queried whether Sajid Javid can continue to meet fiscal rules as he ramps up spending.

Paul Johnson tweeted:


Spending Review: Justice and Home Office do well

Prosecuting people and locking them up seem to be the big winners today in the spending review with justice and home office getting 5 per cent plus real term increases, reports Chris Giles.


Spending Review: Big increase in departmental spending as share of GDP

An important note is that the departmental spending increase is 4.1 per cent in real terms, writes Chris Giles.

The UK economy is expected to grow only around 1.5 per cent.

So, a big increase in departmental spending as a share of GDP. These are significantly increased spending plans.

Hard to do this for many years with debt falling as a share of GDP, however.


McDonnell goes for the laughs

In his response to Sajid Javid’s Spending Review statement – where Mr Javid once again highlighted his upbringing as the child of a bus driver – shadow chancellor John McDonnell (son of another bus driver) quips:

“You know what they say. You wait ages for a chancellor who’s the son of a bus driver, then another comes along shortly after.”

More risqué is a reference to Boris Johnson’s domestic dispute with Carrie Symonds during Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign.


Spending Review: £1.2bn boost for Scotland

The spending round plans will mean a substantial increase in resources available to the Scottish National party government in Edinburgh under the formula used for setting Westminster’s block grant to the devolved nations, writes Mure Dickie in Edinburgh.

“In Scotland, decisions taken in today’s spending round will provide over £1.2bn of extra funding for next year,” Sajid Javid said.

Mr Javid’s separate promise of an additional £160m for farmers in Scotland makes good on promises already made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and should remove a longstanding point of friction between the UK and Scottish governments.

The money was part of EU convergence funding earmarked for Scottish farming in an effort to make payment rates fairer, but was not passed on by the UK government.

Mr Javid said Scottish farmers had “lost out” in 2013 and the government would now “correct that decision”.

SNP politicians welcomed the concession on farmers, but Derek Mackay, Scotland’s finance secretary, said Mr Javid’s spending plans did not go far enough.

He tweeted:

“Despite promises of additional funding from the UK government, the fact remains that today’s spending round gives the [Scottish government] no greater certainty, does not undo the damage of austerity, fails to protect us from Brexit and simply gives just some of the money owed to Scotland.”


Spending Review: Chancellor’s scale of spending rise compared with earlier plans

Chancellor Sajid Javid’s Spending Review document is revealing on the scale of spending increase, reports Chris Giles.

In the March Spring Statement, the government planned to spend 38 per cent of gross domestic product in 2020-21. It now intends to spend 38.6 per cent of GDP on the same economic forecasts.

The level of spending relative to GDP would rise much further if there was an economic downturn after Brexit.


Spending Review: Wales gets extra £600m

The Welsh government received an increase of £600m, 2.3 per cent more than the year before, reports Andy Bounds in Manchester.

There were no special funds earmarked or extra money for farmers, as in Scotland, but it increased in line with the formula for block grants to the devolved nations.


What now…?

As the chancellor continues to take questions on his Spending Review, attention is turning back to the cross-party efforts to avert a no-deal Brexit.

At 3pm, we are expecting a second reading of Labour MP Hilary Benn’s bill, which would force the prime minister to request an extension to the Brexit deadline, followed by a debate on the bill that will take up most of this afternoon.

If the bill is passed, the prime minister is expected to put forward his motion for an early general election at around 9pm.


Javid’s former department one of biggest Spending Review beneficiaries

Helen Warrell, the FT’s Public Policy correspondent, has crunched through some of the detail in the Spending Review. She writes:

Sajid Javid has singled out his former department – the Home Office – for one of the biggest overall funding increases, equivalent to 6.3 per cent in real terms. Having spent his time as home secretary battling knife crime and defending his party’s record on police cuts, Mr Javid said on Wednesday the Treasury would provide £750m for the first year’s recruitment of 20,000 police officers, as promised during Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. An additional allocation of £45m will be provided immediately to help secure the first 2,000 officers in post by March next year.

Tackling the crime surge from the justice perspective, the chancellor also announced £80m for the Crown Prosecution Service, intended to help support the new police officers bring more offenders to court and tackle the “increasing complexity” of crime. The Ministry of Justice overall is receiving a 4.9 per cent real terms resource budget increase in 2020-21, and a capital spending boost of £485m to £620m in total for new prison places and extra security in jails.


Gilts extend retreat as MPs prepare next step in Brexit saga

UK benchmark bond prices extended their decline in early afternoon trade, pushing yields away from yesterday’s historic lows, as MPs prepared their next step in blocking an October exit from the EU without a deal.

The 10-year yield, which moves inversely to the price, rose as much as 11 basis points in early afternoon London trading. It was recently up 10 basis points to 0.505 per cent.

Rebel MPs in the House of Commons dealt a resounding defeat to the Johnson government last night and are seeking to legislate against leaving the EU without an agreement.

Sterling was this afternoon trading just below $1.22, up 0.9 per cent on the day at $1.2186. It was 0.5 per cent higher against the euro.


BoE expects slimmer than previously expected economic hit from no-deal Brexit

The FT’s Valentina Romei writes:

A cliff-edge Brexit where the UK crashed out of the EU with no deal and no transition could lead to a less severe drop in output than initially thought, because of the preparations already taken, according to a Bank of England analysis.

Mark Carney, BoE governor, said that a disorderly Brexit scenario is calculated to result in a peak-to-trough decline in GDP of 5.2 per cent and a rise in the unemployment rate to 7 per cent, while inflation is calculated to peak at 5.25 per cent.

The drop in output would be the second-greatest since the second world war.

Last year, calculations by the BoE were more severe, forecasting an 8 per cent GDP fall, inflation peaking at 6.5 per cent, but a similar rise of unemployment to 7.5 per cent.


Hilary Benn kicks off debate on rebels’ bill

John Bercow, the speaker, had been taking points of order from MPs for the past 15 minutes. Now we get to the meat of the proceedings. Otherwise known as Hilary Benn, in this case.


‘No deal is not in the national interest’: Benn sets out his stall

Hilary Benn is on his feet making the case for his bill, which seeks to avert a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

Calling for a civil debate as he introduced his legislation, Mr Benn said the purpose of the bill was “very simple”.

“It is to ensure that the UK does not leave the EU on October 31 without an agreement.”

“The bill has wide cross-party support, Mr Benn said, noting that it had the backing of “members who until very recently were senior members of the cabinet”.

“You could describe it as a somewhat unlikely alliance. But what unites us is a conviction that there is no mandate for no deal and that the consequences for the economy and for our country would be highly damaging.”

“Those supporting the bill believe that no deal is not in the national interest.”


Caroline Johnson: Bill makes it ‘virtually impossible’ for PM to negotiate

Conservative MP Caroline Johnson has said that in removing the option of no-deal from the table the bill makes it “virtually impossible for our prime minister to negotiate”.

“It tells the EU that if they don’t choose to negotiate and don’t choose to give us a better deal … what they will instead get is the opportunity to offer us an extension of whatever they want, for this House to take.”

But Hilary Benn rejected this argument, saying he did not regard the threat of a no-deal Brexit as part of a “credible negotiating strategy”

“The previous prime minister spent nearly two years saying no deal is better than a bad deal. It didn’t seem to work then and I don’t think it’s going to work now.”


Hammond: ‘There is no negotiation going on with the EU’

Philip Hammond pursued a similar line to Jeremy Corbyn in lashing out at the lack of negotiation being undertaken by the government.

Responding to the claims that removing the threat of no-deal on October 31 is “cutting the legs from under the government in its negotiations”, the former chancellor said:

“It is wrong. It is wrong because actually there is no negotiation going on with the EU. We’ve had confirmation from multiple sources across the EU that nothing is happening and confirmation from within government that nothing is happening.”

Mr Hammond said nothing in the bill would undermine the PM’s negotiating ability. Rather, he said: “The thing that will undermine it is his unwillingness to pursue a realistic negotiating objective.”

“If he tried to achieve significant changes to the way the backstop works that would be a major concession by the EU. But I do think my Rt Hon Friend, as a new prime minister, leading a new government, would stand at least a reasonable chance of getting a hearing and maybe succeeding.“

“But I do think that in setting the bar as he has – at the total removal of the backstop – he has set the bar at a level which is impossible for the EU to comply with.”

In a particularly colourful contribution in response to allegations that the bill risked handing power from the government to Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Hammond added:

“I would sooner boil my head than hand power to the leader of the opposition.”


Keir Starmer addresses when Labour would back an election

Keir Starmer has just been up at the despatch box in parliament. There has been some confusion about the point at which Labour would back an election. Mr Starmer says Labour will wait for passing and implementation of the rebels’ bill.


Meanwhile in the House of Lords…

Lord Forsyth has been leading an attempt by government supporters to time-out the rebels’ bill in the upper chamber of parliament. Everyone has been preparing for a long night (and week). The action in full here.


A zinger from Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames

He says in parliament:

“I want to make clear I have always believed that the referendum result must be honoured and indeed I have voted for the withdrawal agreement on every occasion it has been presented to the House which is more than can be said for my Rt Hon friend the prime minister and other members of the cabinet whose serial disloyalty has been such an inspiration to so many of us.”

Sir Nicholas says he will not be standing at the next election.


MPs vote on Second Reading of bill

MPs in the House of Commons are currently voting on the Second Reading of Hilary Benn’s bill to avert a no-deal Brexit.

If it passes – as is expected – it will then move on to committee stage.

MPs will then vote on a Third Reading at 7pm. If successful at this juncture it will move to the House of Lords.


Bill passes Second Reading with majority of 29

MPs have just voted to pass the bill at Second Reading stage by 329 votes to 300.

It will now move to committee stage where amendments can be proposed, before a vote on the Third Reading at 7pm.


Mood in Brussels increasingly sour as Barnier awaits UK proposals

Michel Barnier has finished briefing EU27 diplomats on the state of play over Brexit this evening, reports Mehreen Khan in Brussels.

One participant told the FT that Mr Barnier said he is still waiting for concrete proposals from the UK over the backstop. The source also warned that mood towards the UK was turning sour.

“All this will obviously make it more difficult for EU to deal with UK,” said the source.

David Frost, UK negotiator, is still in meetings with his EU counterparts today. It’s been six hours and counting…


Former Tory chairman Spelman voted with rebels

Dame Caroline Spelman, a former Conservative party chairman, voted with the rebels in this latest vote, the FT’s Sebastian Payne reports.

The move potentially puts Dame Caroline – who did not vote against the government last night – in line to lose the Tory whip alongside her 21 colleagues who were purged last night.

The Second Reading of today’s cross-party bill, which seeks to block a no-deal Brexit in October by requiring the prime minister to seek an extension to the Article 50 process.


Brussels indicates openness to further Brexit extension

Europe is leaving the door open to a third extension to Britain’s EU membership, FT reporters in Brussels, Paris and Dublin write, but officials say a good reason would have to be shown for another delay.

Brussels officials said they would need to debate the terms of any further extension, but they are already discussing the possibility that UK prime minister Mr Johnson will fail in his pledge to quit the EU on October 31, no “ifs or buts”, thereby requiring more time beyond the current deadline granted in April. 

“There is absolutely no appetite in the EU to throw Britain off the Brexit cliff edge,” said one EU diplomat. “If the UK parliament were to ask for an extension to prevent a no-deal outcome, it would be hard to see how the EU27 could refuse that.” 

Read the full story here


Spelman will not lose party whip despite voting against government

Downing Street has decided not to withdraw the whip from Dame Caroline Spelman, the former Tory party chairman who voted today for the legislation to block a no deal Brexit.

Based on how the government treated rebels yesterday, this appears to be something of a double standard, writes Sebastian Payne.

By means of an explanation, a No 10 official said “Yesterday was being taken as confidence vote and had whipping consequences.”

This technical difference may be true, but it may not come as much comfort to the 21 rebels who were kicked out of the party yesterday and have been barred from standing as a Conservative in the next general election.


1922 Committee: MPs lash out at Johnson over rebel purge

Boris Johnson has been meeting Conservative MPs for the first gathering of the 1922 committee since he became party leader, reports Sebastian Payne. According to those in the room, the prime minister came under sustained attack for withdrawing the party whip from the 21 rebels.

MPs Tobias Ellwood, Edward Leigh, Tim Loughton and Damian Green all made it known that they felt the prime minister had made a mistake. Mr Johnson responded that it was the decision of chief whip Mark Spencer and he “can’t undermine the chief”. One MP present described the defence as “completely pathetic.”

Mr Johnson was also questioned about the role of his chief adviser Dominic Cummings in the sacking of the 21 rebels. He responded that Mr Cummings shouldn’t be blamed as it was him in a “latex mask”.

The room was not packed, as “many didn’t bother coming”, according to one MP.


Grieve tells protestors government behaving like a ‘revolutionary junta’

Addressing a crowd of a few thousand in front of parliament, Dominic Grieve accused the party he had belonged to for 48 years of “behaving like a revolutionary junta”, reports the FT’s Leyla Boulton.

As the former attorney general took to the stage at a Defend our Democracy rally he was met with chants of “Oh Dominic Grieve” à la “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”.

Instead of staging another referendum to ask what voters wanted having now seen the problems of Brexit, the government was lurching “deeper and deeper into an abyss”, Mr Grieve said.

Labour MP David Lammy told the rally that Boris Johnson and allies were working to turn the UK into the “51st state of the United States”.


Irish cows; British heart

In the 1922 meeting, Boris Johnson also hinted at the prospect of a pared-down backstop solution for Northern Ireland by quoting the late Ian Paisley: “Our people may be British but our cows are Irish.”

The FT’s Seb Payne says that the prime minister made reference to a potential agri-food regulatory regime covering the whole island of Ireland in the Commons yesterday.


MPs vote on bill amendments

A large number of amendments have been tabled to the Benn bill, which are now being voted on by MPs. The government did not propose any amendments because – according to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay – there is no acceptable format of the bill.


Barnier says talks ‘in a state of paralysis’

The FT has seen a leaked note of today’s meeting between Michel Barnier and EU27 ambassadors in Brussels, where the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator warned that talks are “currently in a state of paralysis”.

Mehreen Khan reports from Brussels:

Despite claims from the government that talks are progressing, Mr Barnier and a senior commission official warned of the threat of a no-deal Brexit. According to the note, they urged that the UK should not be given “mini-deals” on sector specific issues after Brexit.

“Mini deals can be more advantageous than the Withdrawal Agreement,” said the note.

In addition to the backstop issue, EU negotiators are also concerned by UK demands to agree a free trade deal that allows Britain to substantially diverge from EU standards. Mr Barnier warned that ratification of any such deal through the EU could cause “problems” unless any future deal is “balanced”.


MPs vote on Third Reading of bill

MPs are now voting on the Third Reading of Hilary Benn’s bill. This marks its last stage in the House of Commons.

Presuming it passes – which is likely given the votes on it so far – it will then move to the House of Lords.

This follows some confusion after an amendment from Labour MP Stephen Kinnock appeared to be passed by default because no tellers were available to count votes. Mr Kinnock’s amendment sought to put Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement back to the Commons for a further vote.


Emoticon MPs vote to block no-deal Brexit

British lawmakers have voted to delay Brexit by 327 votes to 299.


Prime minister says passage of bill “effectively ends negotiations”

Boris Johnson hit back after the House of Commons passed the bill to avert no deal at the end of October, saying they had voted to “scupper any serious negotiations”.

The bill, he said, “effectively ends negotiations”, “insists Britain acquiesce to demands of Brussels” and “forces the prime minister … to surrender in international negotiations”.



Johnson calls for election on October 15

The prime minister has called for an election on October 15, saying it is “completely impossible for government to function if the House of Commons refuses to pass anything the government proposes”.

“In my view and the view of this govermment there must now be an election on Tuesday October 15 and I invite [Jeremy Corbyn] to respond to decide which of us goes as prime minister to that crucial council on Thursday October 17.”


Corbyn: No election until today’s bill is passed

Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his position that he would not support an election until today’s bill to avoid a no-deal exit on October 31 has been passed into law.

“The offer of an election today is a bit like the offer of an apple to Snow White by the wicked queen.”

“What he’s offering is not an apple of even an election but the poison of a no-deal.”

“So Mr Speaker I repeat what I said last night. Let this bill pass and gain royal assent. Then we will back an election so we do not crash out with a no-deal exit from the EU.”


Rebels to be replaced

The Conservative party is not wasting much time in selecting new candidates to fill the spots of the 21 rebels who were kicked out of the party on Tuesday evening, writes the FT’s Seb Payne.

In Guildford, represented by Anne Milton since 2005, the local association is being handed a shortlist of three candidates endorsed by Conservative HQ. In Stourbridge, represented by Margot James since 2010, a call for candidacy applications has already gone out. But according to friends of Rory Stewart, who has represented Penrith and the Border since 2010, he is confident that his local association will fight to keep him as their candidate.

For rebels hoping that the Tory whip might be restored, these rapid moves to fill their spots will offer little hope.


Poisoned apples and the Emperor’s New Clothes

I’ve been watching the debate in the House of Commons ahead of tonight’s vote – called by Boris Johnson – on whether to trigger a snap general election, writes the FT’s Jim Pickard.

Mr Johnson told the chamber that he was “very sad” that MPs had voted to bind his hands and prevent a No Deal Brexit by forcing the government to seek an extension to Article 50.

Neither he nor the general public wanted a general election, he said, but it was the only option left.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, responded by saying that Mr Johnson’s Brexit policy was “cloaked in mystery” and – like the Emperor’s New Clothes – “there’s absolutely nothing there.”

Mr Corbyn argued that the offer of a general election was merely a trap, comparing it to the apple offered to Snow White by the wicked queen: “He’s offering…the poison of a No Deal,” he claimed.

The Labour leader complained that the Tories have put forward 92 amendments in the House of Lords to try to filibuster the anti-No Deal bill when it arrives in the upper chamber tomorrow.

Meanwhile we heard again from Ken Clarke, the father of the House of Commons, one of its most experienced former ministers – having held several Tory cabinet roles – who last night was stripped of the whip by the Conservative leadership.

Mr Clarke accused the prime minister of being “disingenuous”, pointing out that some of the ministers punished last night had “voted for Brexit more than he has.”


Swinson: Extend Article 50 until election is held

Much like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson indicated her party would not support an election until the threat of an imminent no-deal Brexit had been averted.

Ms Swinson called on the prime minister to extend Article 50 until an election had been held.

“We could have a general election. But I say to the prime minister such an election should be held in a responsible, calm and orderly way, not with the threat of crashing out with no-deal either during the campaign or in the immediate aftermath.”

“So if he wants an election, extend Article 50 for the purposes of having a general election and bring it on.”

“And if he’s not prepared to do that, don’t be surprised when people are not fooled by his tactics and vote against him.”


Duncan Smith: ‘Put up or shut up’

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith chastised opposition parties for “running away” from an election.

“I have never seen a moment when an opposition party does not want to take over”

“This is a bizarre affair when they are running away from actually trying to defeat a government.”

“Let us have that election. Let us make that decision. And if the Rt Hon Gentleman who leads the Labour Party, genuinely believes in democracy, put up or shut up.”


Brexit delay bill heads for the Lords

The bill to block a no-deal Brexit now passes to the House of Lords having been approved by MPs.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP for Wakefield, has the paperwork:

https://twitter.com/MaryCreaghMP/status/1169332371503636480?s=20


Labour’s Jess Phillips: ‘We are in a national crisis’

Labour’s Jess Phillips said Britain is in the midst of a national crisis as she lambasted Boris Johnson’s plans to prorogue parliament as an “abomination”.

Ms Philips said given the seriousness of the current situation the public expected MPs to be in parliament “doing our jobs” and said she would vote against a near-term general election.

“The reason that I don’t think we should have a general election and the reason I won’t vote for it is because I think, actually, we shouldn’t go on conference recess, we shouldn’t be proroguing parliament. Because currently we are in a national crisis.”

“This is not a game. This is not some toy that we can play with. The British public – if you were to go out into the street and ask them – they think we should be in here doing our jobs.”

“I will vote against an election until the end of October, until this is sorted, because the British public want me here working for them.”


Anger at Johnson exit

MPs have complained that Boris Johnson has not stayed in the Commons to listen to the debate on his own motion. He is not alone however – the house is far from full.


Ping pong

We have been jumping back and forward between government and opposition benches for some time now, with MPs making arguments for and against an October 15 election.

A vote on the prime minister’s motion is expected to be held imminently.


MPs vote on whether to call an election

The debate is now over and MPs are voting on the prime minister’s motion to call an election on October 15.

As a reminder, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, for an election to be called two-thirds of MPs must vote in favour of it.

But Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have all said they will not support it.


Vote to hold an election fails

The government has failed to garner enough votes to hold an election.

MPs voted 298 in favour and 56 against the prime minister’s motion. While this was indeed a majority, it was below the threshold of 434 votes (or two-thirds of MPs) which is required under the Fixed Term Parliament Act for it to pass.


Johnson mocks Corbyn for turning down election opportunity

The prime minister responded to the result by mocking Jeremy Corbyn for not backing an election.

“48 hours ago he was leading the chants of ‘Stop the coup, let the people vote’. Now he’s saying: ‘Stop the election and stop the people from voting’.”

“I think he has become the first leader of the opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election.”

“The obvious conclusion is im afraid is that he does not think he can win.”


Johnson suffers yet another defeat

Boris Johnson has now lost another vote – his attempt to force an early election – making a total of four out of four defeats, writes the FT’s Jim Pickard, meaning a 100% Parliamentary failure rate since becoming prime minister.


Labour reiterates call for election once no-deal is off the table

Labour has reiterated its position that once the Benn bill gains Royal Assent it is willing to go to the polls.

In a tweet, Jeremy Corbyn, who had left the chamber ahead of tonight’s vote, said:


Goodnight and good luck

And with that we are calling it a night.

After another bruising day for the government, we will be back tomorrow when attention will turn to House of Lords, as the bill to block a no-deal Brexit next month moves to the upper house.

See you all then.