We were promised the mother of all showdowns when MPs returned to the Commons this week after Boris Johnson revealed plans to suspend parliament – and Westminster certainly delivered that.
Tuesday night saw Johnson lose his very first vote in the Commons as PM, with a group of rebel Conservatives joining with opposition MPs to successfully take control of parliamentary agenda.
It means they will now have time to try and push through a new law which would block a no-deal Brexit and instead require the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline.
This is seriously bad news for Boris ‘do or die Brexit’ Johnson, who has vowed against ever asking the European Union for more time.
It was already set to be a pretty dismal day for the PM, who also lost his paper-thin majority after Bracknell MP Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the Commons to join the Lib Dems as Johnson gave a speech to the House.
So yeah, things got pretty fiery on MPs’ first day back in parliament after summer recess – and it’s only expected to heat up even more as they take their seats again on Wednesday. Here’s what to expect.
Boris Johnson’s First PMQs
If things weren’t tough enough for the PM as it was, Johnson is set to face his first PMQs this lunchtime since he took up residence in Number 10. Normally, this would be the chance for a new prime minister to go up against the opposition with all guns blazing after winning an election or a leadership contest.
Not so much for Johnson, who is somewhat on the back foot after a disastrous day in parliament yesterday. Whether the PM will be able to keep up his usual swagger when he’s addressing the Commons is yet to be seen.
Sajid Javid’s Spending Review
Amid all this madness, Sajid Javid is going to give his first spending review as chancellor – a speech in the Commons which will reveal Johnson’s fiscal plans. Usually, this would be a big deal – Javid is expected to confirm large increases in public spending, with money for schools, hospitals and police forces.
But with a parliamentary shutdown on the cards and a rebellion from MPs, this is really just the warm-up act for what is to come later.
Debate Over The No-Deal Brexit Block Bill
Here’s where the real action begins. Having successfully grabbed control of the parliamentary agenda yesterday, MPs will now kickstart the process of trying to get their legislation to block no-deal through the Commons. This will involve a series of votes and will need at least half of all MPs to back it to get it through to the next stage.
The 21 Tory MPs who rebelled on Tuesday night by helping to take control of parliament away from the government are expected to vote in favour of the bill, having been kicked out of the party last night by Johnson. The list of rebels includes some pretty big names, from former chancellor Philip Hammond, to Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart and Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames.
If this group manage to get their legislation through the Commons, it could hit the House of Lords on Thursday.
A General Election On The Cards?
This is where Johnson will try and get his own back, tabling a motion for an early general election.
In his speech to the Commons last night, the PM said by eliminating the option of leaving the EU without a deal, MPs were handing control to the European Union, bringing “more dither, more delay, more confusion”.
There must be a snap general election, he said, telling MPs: “The people of this country will have to choose.”
In order for Johnson to bag the general election he so desperately wants, at least two-thirds of the Commons would need to back his motion – 434 MPs. But the Labour have said they will block a fresh poll until it is guaranteed in law that a no-deal Brexit was ruled out, with Jeremy Corbyn telling Johnson: “Get the bill through first.”
Without Labour’s votes, Johnson’s plans are effectively scuppered. It’s certainly not the only way the PM could get a snap election, but this would be a significant bump in his plans.
Good luck, folks – it’s going to be an *interesting* day.