Parliament debate on Tuesday is MPs’ first opportunity to vote on the principle of the PM’s EU withdrawal bill.
In another day of high political drama, MPs on Tuesday first 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.
However, in a second vote shortly after, legislators rebuffed by 322 to 308 the government’s bid to rush the legislation through Parliament in a move that prompted Johnson to put the Brexit bill on “pause” and could yet put the brakes on the UK’s scheduled October 31 EU divorce date.
The EU is currently weighing whether to grant the UK another extension to the deadline for leaving the bloc after Johnson was forced to request a delay until January 31 over the weekend.
Here are the latest updates:
European Council President Donald Tusk said he will “recommend” EU leaders accept the UK’s request for a Brexit extension after the developments in Parliament.
“Following PM @BorisJohnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension,” Tusk said in a post on Twitter.
Following PM @BorisJohnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension. For this I will propose a written procedure.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) October 22, 2019
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said the the UK would not be leaving the EU on October 31, as repeatedly promised by Johnson, following the developments in Parliament.
“Do or die is over, we have now moved on to dying in a ditch. We will not be leaving the EU on 31st October,” Farage said in a post on Twitter, referencing Johnson’s claim that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit past the end of this month.
Do or die is over, we have now moved on to dying in a ditch. We will not be leaving the EU on 31st October.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 22, 2019
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was awaiting further developments in London and Brussels, including “next steps” over the Brexit bill timetable and the requirement for any extension to the UK’s departure from the EU.
“It’s welcome that the House of Commons voted by a clear majority in favour of legislation needed to enact Withdrawal Agreement,” Varadkar said in a post on Twitter.
“We will now await further developments from London and Brussels about next steps including timetable for the legislation and the need for an extension,” he added.
It’s welcome that the House of Commons voted by a clear majority in favour of legislation needed to ennact Withdrawal Agreement. We will now await further developments from London and Brussels about next steps including timetable for the legislation and the need for an extension
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) October 22, 2019
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Westminster, said the developments in Parliament had left Johnson in a precarious position.
“It’s the first time Parliament has voted for any sort of Brexit deal and so his argument is let’s go forward with this and he will say to the EU ‘there is a mandate now’.”
“The trouble is he has lost control of the timetable, and that’s absolutely crucial because the longer Parliament has to debate the little tiny nuts and bolts, the more likely they are to unpick some of it and potentially try to vote it down further down the line,” he added.
“Brexit is now yet again in suspended animation and all eyes look back to the EU to figure out what sort of extension they are prepared to offer the EU.”
Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said the EU’s executive branch “takes note” of developments in the UK’s Parliament and called on the British government to “inform us about the next steps”.
In a post on Twitter, Andreeva also said European Council President Donald Tusk was consulting EU leaders on the UK’s Brexit extension request.
🇪🇺🇬🇧 @EU_Commission takes note of tonight’s result and expects the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps. @eucopresident is consulting leaders on the UK’s request for an extension until 31 January 2020.
— Mina Andreeva (@Mina_Andreeva) October 22, 2019
Tusk had earlier said EU leaders “will decide in coming days“ whether to grant any extension.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, branded Johnson the “author of his own misfortune” after the government’s bid to fast-track the Brexit bill through Parliament failed.
“Tonight the House [of Commons] has refused to be bounced into debating a hugely significant bill with barely any notice,” Corbyn told Parliament.
“Work with us to agree a reasonable timetable and I suspect this House will vote to debate this bill,” he urged Johnson. “That would be the sensible way forward.”
Johnson said he will “pause” Brexit legislation after losing a vote over the government’s proposed timetable for passing it through Parliament.
“I must express my disappointment that the House has voted for delay rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed the UK could leave on 31 October with a deal,” Johnson told Parliament.
“The EU must now make up their mind over how to answer Parliament’s request for a delay … Until they have reached a decision we will pause this legislation,” he added. “Let me be clear, our policy remains that we should not delay.”
British legislators rejected by 322 to 308 the government’s proposed three-day timetable for approving the Brexit bill.
The defeat for the government could put the brakes on the UK’s scheduled October 31 EU divorce date.
MPs voted 329 to 299 in favour of Johnson’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
The vote marks the first time MPs have indicated support for any Brexit deal, and means the bill will now pass to the next stage of parliamentary process.
The 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
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.
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.
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 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
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 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.
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.
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”.