Conservative leadership candidates including Boris Johnson hoping to force a ???deal or no deal??? Brexit in October have been handed a boost after MPs defeated a Labour-led attempt to tie the next prime minister???s hands.
Labour vowed it would not end efforts to stop no deal but the defeat bolstered Johnson???s claim at his leadership launch that MPs would not be prepared to ???reap the whirlwind??? of halting Brexit entirely as Tory MPs prepared for the first round on voting to choose the next prime minister on Thursday.
Tory MPs cheered as the motion was defeated by a majority of 11 on Wednesday night, after which Jeremy Corbyn was heard to say: ???You won???t be cheering in September.???
The former Conservative MP Nick Boles warned opponents of a no-deal departure were fast running out of options ??? apart from a confidence vote to bring down the government. ???No-deal Brexit on 31 October is back to being a racing certainty,??? he said. ???It is very hard to see where any further legislative opportunities will come from. So it???s now a question of politics ??? specifically whether a PM pursuing a no-deal Brexit can command and sustain the confidence of the House of Commons.???
Johnson officially launched his campaign on Wednesday saying he believed a new government ???with a new mandate, a new optimism, a new determination??? could leave the EU with an amended deal by 31 October.
However, the leadership frontrunner warned that he was determined to leave the EU by that date, whether he had achieved a new deal or not.
???I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome, I don???t think we can end up with any such thing. But it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously,??? he said.
Johnson refused to say what he would do if he had not secured an improved deal in time for 31 October ??? or whether he would resign if the deadline were not met or no deal was prevented.
Speaking after the defeat in the Commons, the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said Labour would continue its cross-party efforts to stop no deal.
???Labour stands ready to use whatever mechanism it can to protect jobs, the economy and communities from the disastrous consequences of a no-deal Brexit,??? he said. ???Any Tory leadership candidate should know that parliament will continue to fight against no deal.???
One shadow minister said opponents of a no-deal Brexit had missed a crucial opportunity and believed they had been scuppered by the timing. ???This isn???t the end of it. We???ll just have to be doubly creative,??? they said. ???The timing in the midst of [the] Tory leadership [contest] is poor, but not our choice.???
Eight Labour MPs including Caroline Flint, John Mann and Graham Stringer voted with the government against the motion and 13 more abstained. Ten Conservative MPs voted with Labour.
The debate before the vote revealed fraying tempers in all wings of both parties. The Labour MP Gareth Snell, who represents the leave-voting seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central, said he regretted not voting for Theresa May???s Brexit agreement. He said he would abstain because he could not countenance parliamentary manoeuvres that would lead to a further delay.
???We will have been responsible for a no-deal Brexit by default because of our inability to make a decision,??? Snell said.
The former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he was prepared to resign the Conservative whip and go against the government in a no-confidence vote if it would prevent a no-deal Brexit. ???I simply have to say, here and now, I will not hesitate to do that if that is what is attempted,??? he said.
The motion proposed giving MPs control of the parliamentary agenda in a fortnight???s time. That day could then have been used to begin legislation to prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal, though it is uncertain what form this would take.
Speaking in the debate, Starmer said MPs had been forced to act because of suggestions from leadership candidates including Johnson and Dominic Raab that the UK would leave ??? come what may ??? on 31 October. Raab had even suggested he would be