Brexit: No-deal opponents defeat government
By Bill Heaney
Anyone who thought the shambles at Westminster wasn’t going to wash up on West Dunbartonshire’s shores had better think again.
It is now clear that there will be a General Election soon with the people here going to the polls.
And that means that Martin Docherty Hughes and Brendan O’Hara will have to defend their seats for the SNP in West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh and South Argyll.
The first sign that SNP are preparing to go on election footing is that local council leader Jonathan McColl has indicated that St Martin’s Primary School in Renton no longer faces imminent closure.
The SNP were poised to suffer from the backlash to that controversial decision which was made against a background of acrimonious protests by parents and concerned residents.
They were furious that the pupils were to be shipped out of the village along the road to St Mary’s in Bank Street, Alexandria, for their education.
And it was certain that Renton residents who have a reputation for being feisty in political matters would make their feelings known at the ballot box at the next election, no matter when that might happen or whatever level of politics.
Martin Docherty Hughes and Brendan O’Hara will be fighting to keep their Westminster seats for SNP.
But McColl and Docherty Hughes, who are close associates, will have a hard time to hold on to their seats here after all the crazy decisions and U-turns the SNP have made and continue to make at council level, where the public continue to be locked out of meetings.
Labour and even the Conservatives appear to have a had a new lease of life in recent weeks and, from looking tired and dispirited, now appear to be up for a fight.
How Brendan O’Hara can hope to win in Helensburgh, which was gerrymandered out of West Dunbartonshire at the last boundary review, is a mystery since the SNP are anti nuclear weapons and the Government continue to pour £billions into the Naval Base Clyde and the submarines based there.
This in itself shows that the UK government are firmly committed to retaining the Union and have no intention whatever of sanctioning another Referendum on Scottish independence.
Soon there will be 10,000 jobs, service and civilian, linked to the Base, not to mention the £millions that the establishment awards to suppliers.
Last night, the election loomed closer than ever after the BBC reported that Tory rebels and opposition MPs defeated the government in the first stage of their attempt to pass a law designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
The Commons voted 328 to 301 to take control of the agenda, meaning they can bring forward a bill seeking to delay the UK’s exit date.
In response, Boris Johnson said he would bring forward a motion for an early general election. This morning that looked more likely than ever.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the bill should be passed before an election was held.
In total, 21 Tory MPs, including a number of ex-cabinet ministers, joined opposition parties to defeat the government.
The government warned in advance that it would remove the whip – effectively expel – any MPs who chose to vote against it.
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The prime minister said the MPs’ bill would “hand control” of Brexit negotiations to the EU and bring “more dither, more delay, more confusion”.
He told MPs he had no choice but to press ahead with efforts to call an October election, adding: “The people of this country will have to choose.”
The result means the MPs will be able to take control of Commons business on Wednesday.
That will give them the chance to introduce a cross-party bill which would force the prime minister to ask for Brexit to be delayed until 31 January, unless MPs approve a new deal, or vote in favour of a no-deal exit, by 19 October.
The BBC understands the government intends to hold an election on 15 October, two days before a crucial EU summit in Brussels.
To call an election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Mr Johnson would need support from Labour as he requires the backing of two-thirds of the UK’s 650 MPs.
But Mr Corbyn said the legislation backed by opposition MPs and Tory rebels should pass before any election was held, to “take no deal off the table”.
The BBC’s chief political correspondent, Vicki Young, said the government was framing the situation as the Labour leader trying to block Brexit, and that would be its argument going into a general election.