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23 October 2018

As the government dodges another Brexit rebellion, no deal looks ever more likely

Conservative opponents of Chequers were set to thwart ban on high-calibre rifles.

By Stephen Bush

For the second Monday night in a row, MPs were left with an unexpectedly free evening after the government pulled the Offensive Weapons Bill – the reason? To head off a rebellion by Conservative opponents of Chequers that would have seen efforts to ban high-calibre rifles thwarted. 

It’s all about trying to force Theresa May to abandon her proposals for Brexit – which is odd, because in the real world, she already has, at least to all intents and purposes. May’s pledges to the Commons yesterday and her position on the backstop mean that unless she makes a further U-Turn, there is no hope or prospect of a Brexit deal and the United Kingdom is heading out without a deal.

Even if she does, there’s no guarantee it will pass: Boris Johnson became the 44th MP to join Stand Up For Brexit, which isn’t the name of the world’s most uninspiring comedy night but a grassroots Conservative campaign to secure a “real” Brexit. Of course, not all 44 MPs will come close to honouring the Stand Up For Brexit pledge but the campaign’s asks are incompatible with any Brexit deal and it is hard to see how enough of the 44 will be persuaded to vote for any deal like May’s for it to pass the House of Commons. 

Which leaves the United Kingdom in the same place it was yesterday: with no clear path to negotiating any deal with the European Union and no new Offensive Weapons Bill either.

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