Our correspondent The Rebel looks at today’s astonishing events in the House of Commons as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson vows to fight on and win a crucial vote approving the ‘deal’ with the European Union (EU), but a new amendment calls for delay.
The Rebel is a leading figure close to senior politicians in London as well as Cardiff Bay, and will always give readers the inside track on what is being discussed in the corridors of power.
For BoJo it has always been about politics.
The future of the UK may have been at stake, but for him the important factors have been about staying in number 10, winning the next General Election and seeing off the bearded lefty.
We saw the first Saturday sitting of the House of Commons since the Falklands war today, and it came as the culmination of more than three of the most extraordinary years in British politics.
And that sitting has not resolved things – the chaos will go on.
Boris will now have to ask the EU for an extension beyond 31 October after MPs this afternoon backed the so-called ‘Letwin’ amendment designed to rule out a no-deal exit, by 322 votes to 306.
The EU said it was up to the UK to “inform it of the next steps”.
But Bojo was characteristically ebullient and has said he will press on “undaunted” with his Brexit strategy.
The vote is a major pain in the backside (whatever he says) for the studiedly tousled-haired one and his adviser, staring-eyes Dominic Cummings because he has vowed he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for an extension.
Now though he may have to.
He had pitched the vote between deal or no deal after coming to an agreement with the EU, knowing that Leave voters had already lined up behind him.
The respected polling analyst Sir John Curtice said that Leavers had thrown their weight behind Bojo and the deal.
Sir John claimed that the news of the poll result would give BoJo “some encouragement” that he would “squeeze” the Brexit Party vote if a General Election is called.
But there has been less encouragement for the bearded one from the polls.
One showed the Tories holding a steady lead at 31 per cent, with Labour on 26.
The Lib Dems were on 20 per cent and the Brexit Party took fourth place at 11 per cent.
Another survey put them on 38, with Labour on 23, the Lib Dems on 15 and the Brexit Party on 12.
Last month was pretty grim for the bearded lefty too.
Quite apart from new appalling headlines about his failure to tackle alleged anti-Semitism in the party, the polls were decisively against him.
One put the Tories on 37 per cent, Labour on 25, the Lib Dems on 16 and the Brexit Party on 13, while another put them on 38, 24, 20 and seven respectively.
These were different polling companies too!
Even before the vote today, there were confusing signals from Brussels – some helped Bojo in his quest and some hindered him.
EU leaders had left open the option of extending Brexit beyond 31 October if the new deal had been voted down by the Commons, and he didn’t like that.
But he was helped by comments from the EU President Jean-Claude Juncker apparently casting doubt on the possibility of a further Brexit delay.
Even if Jean-Claude and Boris don’t want one – there may have to be a delay now!