ABCC Brexit Update - GENERAL ELECTION on December 12, 2019
- On 29 November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the final vote for a General Election on 12 December by 438 votes to 20. The majority of 418 secures passage of the bill to the House of Lords where it is expected it will quickly pass and be sent for Royal Assent before the end of the week. This means that Parliament will be dissolved on the 12th of November for the campaign to get into full swing.
- This will be the first December Election since 1923.
- Following the decision late last week to offer an extension and discussion over the weekend about the length that would be offered, the European Union on Monday agreed to extend the Brexit a deadline until 31 January. This is a "Flextension" another new word from the Brexit lexicon, meaning that should the UK pass the Withdrawal Bill earlier and be ready, then Brexit could occur earlier than the 31st of January.
- Following the official advice of the extension offer, Prime Minister Johnson wrote to accept those terms, as required by law and to provide confidence to the House to vote for an election.
- Over the weekend, the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats had agreed in principle to an election if no-deal was avoided on 31 October and the extension was in place.
- On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson asked the House of Commons to support an election using the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, which required a 2/3 vote of the 650 MP's in the House of Commons for the proposition to succeed. This was defeated, although 299 voted for and only 70 against with the Labour Party abstaining from the vote.
- On Tuesday, the Prime Minister put forward a "One Line Bill" to change the Fixed Terms Act and enable a vote with a simple majority to allow for an election on the 12th of December. Leading to the victory by 418 votes. Over 100 Labour Party MP's abstained from the vote and 11 voted against an election.
- The Government had successfully defeated amendments on the Bill, including to change the date to November 9th or 20 May 2020. Other amendments including a change to the voting age to include 16 and 17 year olds and EU citizens were not considered.
- The Prime Minister has "restored the Whip" to 10 of the 21 Conservative Party Members who were thrown out of the party for voting against the Government earlier this month. Those who are still adrift from the Whip are Guto Bebb, Ken Clarke, David Gauke, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Philip Hammond, Oliver Letwin, Anne Milton, Antoinette Sandbach and Rory Stewart. Sam Gyimah has also been lost to the Conservatives and joined the Liberal Democrats.
The ABCC and Brexit
The ABCC will continue to follow these developments closely. We look forward to keeping members up to date with the very latest from London and what it possibly means for the Australian-British business community. Earlier ABCC Brexit updates can be found on the ABCC Blog.
If you would like to receive more frequent Brexit updates or have any questions, please feel free to contact our office on firstname.lastname@example.org.
By David McCredie, CEO, Australian British Chamber of Commerce