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Richard Trinder
Editor
9:31 AM 3rd September 2019

The Sword of Damocles

The PM outside No. 10 yesterday
The PM outside No. 10 yesterday
It's crunch time for the PM today. He faces a critical vote in Parliament this evening and No 10 officials have warned of an election on 14 October if MPs support a bill to stop a no-deal.

Ex-chancellor Philip Hammond believes there is enough support for the bill to pass. On the Today programme Mr Hammond said the PM was making "no progress" on getting a Brexit deal, adding that there were "no substantive negotiations".

Boris Johnson has said he did not want an election.

Jeremy Corbyn has said the Labour Party is ready for a general election but Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd later said Labour would vote against any government plans to hold a general election.

When Parliament sits later, it needs to be mindful of the ticking clock hanging like the sword of Damocles over their heads. If the unlikely coalition of disaffected Tories, centre leaning Labour MPs and suddenly relevant Liberals can wrest control of the Parliamentary agenda then lawmakers will have just a handful of days to pass legislation preventing a no-deal.

When Parliament returns after the imminent recess it will be just 17 days before Britain is due to leave Europe.

The fable of the Sword of Damocles has not often looked so relevant. After much nagging by Damocles, his king proposed that he took over running the country for a day. Let's hope the analogy ends there - it didn't go well for Damocles or his country.