Brexit: Johnson, parliament scrap in make-or-break week


The British government on Monday said it would bring the EU Withdrawal Bill to parliament tomorrow for debate in an effort to meet their pledge to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

The move came after the government’s repeated failures to convince at least 320 MPs to back a revised Brexit deal.

Earlier on Monday, outgoing Parliament Speaker John Bercow blocked a “meaningful vote” on Johnson’s revised Brexit deal, saying it would be “repetitive and disorderly.” He said the same motion could not be voted on in the same parliamentary session.

The government said it would publish the bill soon after the vote was blocked.

The deal, reached by the government and the EU officials, was amended in a rare Saturday sitting by the House of Commons, but an amendment required Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline.

Johnson sent an “unsigned” letter to the EU to request an extension – as he was forced to by previous legislation, known as the Benn Act – but also sent a second, signed letter saying an extension would cause delay to Brexit and he did not want it.

The government will now try to complete all the parliamentary stages of the EU Withdrawal Bill and seek approval from the House.

However, having lost all votes in parliament since he took the prime minister’s post, Johnson needs to win a vote on Tuesday to clear the way for MPs’ extra and intense work on the bill. If Johnson loses this vote, it would be all but impossible to meet the end-of-month deadline.

The bill is amendable, and the opposition parties are already drawing up amendments in an attempt to completely rule out a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31. Political commentators think amendments such as one forcing a conditional second referendum on the Brexit deal might render it meaningless to Johnson, and with no options left, he might call for a snap election.

The EU has yet to respond to Johnson’s unwilling request for an extension, but the future of the country is still set to be shaped in the House of Commons for the rest of this week.
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