In another day of high political drama, MPs on Tuesday voted 329 to 299 in favour of the government’s 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill, signifying support in principle for the Brexit deal Johnson recently brokered with the EU.
MPs are now due to vote on a proposed three-day timetable for approving the legislation. A defeat for the government could put the brakes on the UK’s scheduled October 31 EU divorce date.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, October 22
Parliament backs PM’s Brexit bill
MPs voted 329 to 299 in favour of Prime Minister Johnson’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, signifying support in principle for the Brexit deal Johnson recently brokered with the EU.
The vote means the bill will now pass to the next stage of parliamentary process.
Labour open to compromise on Brexit bill timetable
The main opposition Labour Party said it was open to finding a compromise on the timetable for passing Brexit legislation through Parliament, having earlier said it would vote against Johnson’s proposal to fast-track the exit bill.
“No parliamentarian seeking to properly scrutinise and improve such a vital piece of legislation could agree to support the Government’s proposed programme motion,” said Labour’s Chief Whip Nicholas Brown in a letter to his opposite number in government.
“I remain available at any point to seek a consensus with you on a programme motion that would command the support of all sides of the house,” Brown added.
The current timetable does not provide for sufficient scrutiny of the legal text of the Brexit deal.
Labour remain available to seek to agree a consensus on a timetable to scrutinise this deal that would command the support of all sides of the House. pic.twitter.com/SlKYIqvnaT
— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) October 22, 2019
DUP legislator slams Johnson’s Brexit plan
Sammy Wilson, a Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP, said his party would not support Johnson’s deal as it proposes “a border in the Irish sea”.
“The Prime Minister has lost my respect. Instead of owning his decision to capitulate on Northern Ireland to get his deal through in a hurry, he is implying that none of us can read the detail,” Wilson said in a post on Twitter.
The Prime Minister has lost my respect. Instead of owning his decision to capitulate on Northern Ireland to get his deal through in a hurry, he is implying that none of us can read the detail. It creates a border in the Irish Sea and the @duponline will not support it. pic.twitter.com/2Now8POJD3
— Sammy Wilson MP (@eastantrimmp) October 22, 2019
The DUP has helped prop up the minority Conservative government since the UK’s 2017 general election but is at odds with Johnson over his Brexit plans.
Read more about what the prime minister’s deal would mean for Northern Ireland in this explainer.
Letwin urges MPs to back Brexit bill timetable
Former Conservative Party MP Oliver Letwin – who over the weekend headed a successful push to withhold approval of Johnson’s Brexit deal until all the legislation needed to implement it has been passed through parliament – said he will back the government’s Brexit bill timetable.
Letwin said he was “seriously worried” the government would pull the Brexit bill, as threatened, if the programme motion setting out the timetable was rejected by MPs.
“Surely best for all of us who regard this deal as the least of the evils to vote for the Programme Motion, whatever we really think of it,” he said in a post on Twitter.
Getting seriously worried that HMG will pull Bill if Programme Motion is defeated. Surely best for all of us who regard this deal as the least of the evils to vote for the Programme Motion, whatever we really think of it.
— Oliver Letwin (@oletwinofficial) October 22, 2019
French foreign minister cool on Brexit extension
France sees no grounds to extend Brexit, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“At this stage, we consider that there is no justification for a new extension,” Le Drian told the French parliament.
Labour Party will not support Brexit deal or timetable, Corbyn says
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would not support Johnson’s Brexit deal or his timetable to pass the legislation for it through Parliament.
“My own view is that we should vote against this bill this evening,” Corbyn told Parliament, adding that Labour would also oppose the timetable for passage of the legislation through the House of Commons.
Labour opposes Boris Johnson’s #SellOutDeal. It will hit the poorest parts of our country the hardest.
Labour will fight to safeguard workers’ rights, protect our economy and ensure the people are given the final say. pic.twitter.com/BX5cp5Huh4
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) October 22, 2019
EU team to begin work on post-Brexit ties on November 16
The European Commission team in charge of negotiating the Brexit divorce deal will become the “Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom” and is due to start work on November 16, the Commission said in a statement.
The task force will begin its work regardless of developments in the UK, the Commission’s statement said, and will continue to be headed by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
“It will be in charge of the finalisation of [Brexit] negotiations, as well as the commission’s ‘no-deal’ preparedness work,” the statement added.
Johnson threatens to pull Brexit bill
Johnson said he would scrap his Brexit legislation and push for an election if MPs reject the government’s accelerated three-day timetable for passing the bill.
“The bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election,” Johnson told Parliament.
EU will not reopen Brexit deal, Johnson says
Johnson said the EU will not reopen the Brexit deal he had brokered with the bloc if MPs seek to change it by amending the ratifying legislation.
“Our European friends could not be clearer: The deal on the table is the one contained in this bill and the decision for this House is whether to ratify this deal rather than going round in circles in a futile attempt to construct a new one,” he said.
Read more about the deal here.
EU to decide in ‘coming days’ on Brexit extension
European Council President Donald Tusk said EU leaders “will decide in coming days” whether to grant Britain another extension to the deadline for leaving the bloc, based on developments in Westminster.
Tusk said that the decision on prolonging Brexit for three months after October 31, as requested by Johnson over the weekend, “will very much depend on what the British Parliament decides or doesn’t decide”.