MPs back bill to block no deal on first vote (BBC News)

  • MPs have backed a bill to block a no-deal Brexit, which could trigger Boris Johnson to seek a general election.
  • Opposition MPs and Tory rebels ensured the bill passed its first stage by 329 votes to 300.
  • If it is passed in full, it will force the PM to ask for an extension to 31 October Brexit deadline if a deal has not been agreed with the EU.
  • But Mr Johnson has warned he would push for an immediate vote on an early general election it if went through.
  • This vote was on the second reading – the parliamentary stage which examines the main principles of the bill – and was the first chance for MPs to show whether they supported the bill.
  • MPs are now debating amendments to the bill – put forward by MPs but chosen by the Deputy Speaker – which they will vote on from 19:00 (updates may follow later this evening on this).

No-deal recession less severe now, says central bank boss (BBC News)

  • A no-deal exit from the EU would probably see the economy shrink by less than previously estimated, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said.
  • Mr Carney told MPs that preparations made since the central bank’s last estimate in November have softened its worst-case scenario.
  • A disorderly Brexit will now probably see the economy shrink by 5.5% rather than the 8% forecast before.
  • He said more time to prepare could cut the damage further.
  • Better border preparations, a temporary deal for financial services companies to access UK markets, and a deal on the market for financial insurance products, have all been put in place since November, he told the Treasury Select Committee.
  • “The impact of that has been to reduce the worst case scenario.”

EU signals it is open to Brexit extension — if UK asks for one (The FT)

  • Europe is leaving the door open to a third extension to Britain’s EU membership after Boris Johnson’s defeat in the House of Commons raised the possibility that the UK will need to seek a further delay to its exit.
  • Brussels officials said they would need to debate the terms of any further extension, but they are already discussing the possibility that Mr Johnson, UK prime minister, will fail in his pledge to quit the EU on October 31, no “ifs or buts”, thereby requiring more time beyond the deadline granted in April.
  • Brussels was on Wednesday also stepping up its preparation for a no-deal departure by the UK next month, as the Commission issued a “final call” to businesses to prepare.
  • It issued proposals to set aside up to €780m of emergency funding to help deal with the potential economic and commercial fallout.

Scottish judge dismisses legal challenge to suspension of parliament (The FT)

  • A Scottish judge on Wednesday dismissed a legal effort by more than 70 parliamentarians to stop prime minister Boris Johnson from suspending parliament, but the group said it would appeal immediately.
  • Raymond Doherty ruled at Edinburgh’s Court of Session that the UK government was right to argue that Mr Johnson’s plan to prorogue parliament in the run-up to Brexit was a matter of “high policy and political judgment” and not something that courts could pass judgment on.
  • The Court of Session’s higher Inner House is likely to hear an appeal of the decision on Thursday, while a separate challenge to prorogation brought by campaigner Gina Miller will be heard by London’s High Court on the same day.
  • The Supreme Court plans to hear any appeals to both cases together beginning on September 17.

Priti Patel abandons promise to end free movement after Brexit (The FT)

  • Priti Patel has backtracked on the government’s promise to end free movement immediately in the event of a no-deal Brexit, instead returning to the previous policy of giving new EU migrants three years’ temporary leave to remain.
  • The announcement vindicates repeated warnings from lawyers and policy experts that bringing a hard stop to free movement on 31 October — as Number 10 pledged last month — would be impossible to implement in such a short space of time.
  • They also warned it would leave Boris Johnson’s new government open to legal challenge.
  • Ms Patel said on Wednesday she would revert to her predecessor’s no-deal plan to replace freedom of movement.
  • This would grant all EU nationals entering the UK between the planned Brexit date of 31 October 2019 and the end of 2020 a three-year temporary leave to remain.