Brexit’s most important week? Five things that happened on Thursday

There were several tales of the unexpected at Westminster, as one MP defected and another – closer to the PM than most – announced he was quitting.

And then there was a speech by Boris Johnson and a court case. Here are Thursday’s biggest Brexit moments.

1) Lords give up Brexit battle

Politics-watchers were prepped for an all-nighter – energy drinks in hand, snacks at the ready – but the Lords decided to give us an early dart.

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Pro-Leave peers were expected to debate, debate, then debate some more after the bill – which aims to block a no-deal Brexit – passed by the Commons in just one day.

If, perhaps with the aid of matchsticks, they had kept the filibuster going until 10.30 BST, it would have knocked the bill off course from becoming law before Parliament is suspended next week.

But come 01.30, a deal was struck that meant peers would let it pass, and get to bed.

The government has said the bill will complete its passage through the Lords by 17:00 BST on Friday.

2) Berger’s defection

We didn’t have to wait long for the next big story of the day.

Luciana Berger announced that, in this “moment of national crisis”, she would be ditching her tag as an independent MP and joining the Liberal Democrats.

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It comes after she quit Change UK in June.

And after she left the Labour Party in March, complaining about its handling of complaints over anti-Semitism – having herself received torrents of abuse on the internet.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson had a good day – taking her party up to a total of 16 MPs.

3) Jo Johnson’s exit

There was little time for Ms Swinson and Ms Berger to enjoy the spotlight, though, as a Johnson took over the headlines.

No, not Boris, but his younger brother Jo.

He shocked Westminster by tweeting he would be resigning from government and standing down as the MP for Orpington, having been “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.

Twitter went wild with speculation – cue many tweets about quitting to “spend less time with family”.

But sources told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that Jo Johnson had quit because he couldn’t stomach the so-called purge of the Tory rebels who backed a bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Despite the awkwardness, No 10 wished him well and praised him for his work as a minister and MP.

4) Boris Johnson takes to podium again

He may have hoped to have been launching his general election campaign today, but instead Boris Johnson spoke to the public surrounded by new police recruits in Wakefield, Yorkshire.

The PM gave a speech promising more cash for coppers, and repeated his promise of recruiting an extra 20,000 officers across the country.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the speech soon came back to his desire to leave the EU by 31 October and how he believed the vote in Parliament on Wednesday had “scuppered our negotiating power”.

He then said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond that date.

Instead, he insisted the decision of who should negotiate with the EU – him or Jeremy Corbyn – needed to go back to the public.

There were questions aplenty about trust after his brother’s shock move.

But what might be most remembered is a new police recruit in full uniform, squinting in the sun standing right behind the PM, who seemed to have a dizzy spell towards the end of the Q&A, and sat down.

Mr Johnson asked if she was alright and promised to wrap up soon.

5) A word or two from our learned friends

There was action in London’s High Court too. Lawyers acting for campaigner Gina Miller argued that the PM was acting unlawfully in proroguing – suspending – Parliament for five weeks.

But Mr Johnson’s team replied that it was a political, not a legal, matter.

Documents disclosed at the High Court revealed that Boris Johnson had warned ministers there was a “high chance” he would fail to get a new Brexit deal with the EU.

We’ll be back on to Friday, when we can expect a judgement by the court on prorogation.

And a whole lot more Brexit news…

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BBC News – UK Politics

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