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Early Parliamentary General Election Bill

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The Prime Minister will present a Bill to Parliament today, 29 Oct 2019, to make provision for a Parliamentary General Election to be held in December 2019.

The passage of this Bill requires a simple majority and overrides the requirements of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

The Government has confirmed that it will not bring back the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill for further debate.

MPs have 6 hours of debate allocated with the Government wanting to complete all stages of the Bill in a single day.

Labour have just announced that they will back the call for a General Election in December with Jeremy Corbyn stating

“I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table. We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to 31 January has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no deal off the table has now been met. We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.”

This means that it becomes more or less certain that an election will be held in December.

Update

The Bill as introduced:

Early Parliamentary General Election Bill 2019-20

Early General Election Bill (pdf)

Early General Election Bill Notes (pdf)

The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Tuesday 29 October 2019. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate.

MPs will next consider the Bill at Second Reading, to be followed by Committee of the Whole House and Third Reading. All to be completed in 6 hours.

(Expect the usual unrelated jibber-jabber – this is a vote on whether to hold an early General Election … so lets include as much unrelated stuff as possible to keep it going and show we are earning our salaries )

Update: 2nd Reading

The PM opened the debate on the 2nd reading of the Bill at 14:23. The debate proceeded until around 17:40 when it formally passed the 2nd Reading. The Bill now entered the next stage of its passage through Parliament, the Committee Stage, where each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill are debated.

A number of Amendments were selected from the many proposed.

Committee of the Whole House Amendments as at 29 October 2019 (pdf)

Chairman of Ways and Means’s provisional grouping and selection of Amendments

Selected amendments were

Amendment 2: This amendment would change the date of the proposed general election to Monday 9 December.

Amendment 3: This is a consequential amendment changing the title of the Bill if amendment 2 was made.

Amendment 14: This amendment has the effect of aligning the registration deadline for Scotland with the registration deadline in the rest of the United Kingdom, by removing the need for the St Andrew’s Day bank holiday in Scotland to be taken into account.

Rejected amendments varied from the attempt to allow 16-17 year olds to have a vote in the election, allow non-uk EU citizens to have a vote, a 2nd referendum etc. and can be read in the attached documents.

Further inconsequential debate continued until 20:00 when a vote on the amendments to the Bill were taken: For amendment 2, the result was 295 votes in favour with 315 votes against, so that the amendment was rejected.

Amendment 14 was accepted together with changes to Clause 1 and Clause 2 as it stands and made without a further vote.

The Committee Stage was completed and proceeded through the Report Stage and to 3rd Readin.

A further vote was taken on the 3rd Reading of the Bill which passed by 438 votes in favour with 20 votes against.

The Bill now goes to the House of Lords for approval and passes through the same process sequence in the House of Lords.

Update: House of Lords

The Bill completed all stages through the House of Lords on 30 October 2019.

Both Houses agreed on the text of the Bill which now waits for the final stage of Royal Assent This is when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law). Royal Assent is scheduled for 31 October. This is when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law).

Update: 31 October 2019

The Early Parliamentary General Election Act was given Royal Assent and became Law.

There will now be a General Election, to be held on Thursday 12 December 2019.

Under provisions in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election. The date of the next general election is 12 December 2019, accordingly this Parliament will dissolve on 6 November 2019.

Following the general election on 12 December 2019, the next general election will be scheduled to take place on the first Thursday of May 2024 – 2 May 2024, Parliament will be dissolved on Tuesday 26 March 2024.

Parliament rejects call for General Election

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Today, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called for an early General Election to be held on 12 December 2019.

Because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the motion requires 2/3 of all MPs to agree in order to pass. Following debate, a vote was taken with the result 299 votes in favour and 70 votes against. Although there was a majority in favour, the numbers did not reach the majority required under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act and thus fails.

Following the vote, the PM notified Parliament of the Governments intention to present a short (one-line) Bill calling for a General Election to be held on Thursday 12 December 2019. If this Bill is passed, only requiring a majority of votes, it will circumvent the requirements of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and allow a General Election to be held.

PM accepts extension offered by EU

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written a letter to EU President Donald Tusk accepting an extension to the period allowed under Article 50(3) to January 31 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-letter-to-president-donald-tusk-28-october-2019

Transcript:

The Prime Minister

28 October 2019

Dear Donald

I refer to the draft European Council Decision EUCO XT 20024/1/19 REV 1, which extends to 31 January 2020 the period under Article 50 TEU. As you are well aware, I have no discretion under the UK’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, which was imposed on this Government against its will, to do anything other than confirm the UK’s formal agreement to this extension, as per the attached draft Decision.

I must make clear my view that this unwanted prolongation of the UK’s membership of the EU is damaging to our democracy and to the relationship between us and our European friends. While we will of course not seek to deliberately disrupt the EU’s business, I must underline that I continue to have a responsibility as Prime Minister to protect the UK’s national interests during this period, including in EU decision-making.

I would have much preferred it if the UK Parliament could have proceeded rapidly to ratify the deal we reached between us. Unfortunately I very much fear that this Parliament will never do so as long as it has the option of further delay. That is why I am seeking a General Election in December to ensure the election of a fresh Parliament which is capable of resolving the issue in accordance with our constitutional norms.

But, in case Parliament resists this too, I would also urge EU Member States to make clear that a further extension after 31 January is not possible. This is plenty of time to ratify our deal. It will avoid this Parliament simply extending our membership again and again, distracting from the good conduct of the business of the European Union, and corroding public trust in politics in the UK.

I very much hope that we can soon put this difficult period behind us, and move forward rapidly to ending our EU membership and beginning the negotiations on the future Free Trade Agreement and the future partnership of friends which will come with it.

I am copying this letter to members of the European Council, the President of the Commission and the President of the European Parliament.

Yours sincerely

Boris Johnson

Operation Brock is activated on the M20

Highways England announced today (Monday 28 October) that the Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 in Kent is now active.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/operation-brock-is-activated-on-the-m20

Drivers of lorries weighing more than 7.5 tonnes heading for Eurotunnel or the Port of Dover on the M20 should follow signs directing them onto the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between junction 8 for Maidstone and junction 9 for Ashford. A 30mph speed limit is in place and, in the event of disruption at the ports, lorries could be queued on this section of motorway.

All other drivers can continue their journeys as normal. On the M20, two lanes remain open to traffic in each direction between junctions 8 and 9, using a contraflow on the London-bound carriageway, with a 50mph speed limit in place.

Operation Brock is the name for a series of measures that improve Kent’s resilience in the event of cross-channel disruption. It has stages that can be deployed sequentially, scaling up or down to meet demand. In addition to the M20 contraflow, lorries can be routed to Manston Airfield and, if needed, the M26 motorway can be closed and used to queue HGVs too. The operation is an interim measure which was successfully deployed in March 2019, and crucially keeps the M20 open in both directions using a contraflow system.

It has been deployed now in response to potential delays at the ports in the coming days or weeks. Its deployment will be kept under continual review and it will be stood down when it is no longer needed.

Will there be a General Election in December 2019 ?

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MPs are due to debate and vote on a motion later today (28 October 2019), in the House of Commons, to hold an early General Election on December 12 2019. Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, an early election can only take place if it is supported by at least two thirds of MPs.

If agreed, the PM will attempt to pass the legislation for the current deal in the time before Parliament is dissolved (6 November 2019).

Labour have indicated that they will not support the motion.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats parties together have proposed their own plan to trigger an election. This, they say, could be achieved by introducing a Bill to amend the Fixed Term Parliament Act and setting a specific date of 9 December 2019 for the next General Election.

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