What happens next in the Brexit saga?

Metro Politics 3 weeks ago
The prime minister insists the UK will still leave the EU this month (Picture: Reuters/PA)
The prime minister insists the UK will still leave the EU this month (Picture: Reuters/PA)

Yesterday was supposed to be the day when we came closer to a Brexit resolution, but with the MPs voting for a delay, what happens next?

What happened in Parliament?

‘Super Saturday’, where MPs sat in the Commons for the first time in 37 years, was meant to be a day of immense significance for the country’s future, where the government finally tried to conclude a Brexit deal.

However, matters did not go the way Boris Johnson planned, after MPs voted by a majority of 16 to back an amendment put forward by former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin to ‘withhold approval of the deal agreed between Mr Johnson and Brussels unless and until implementing legislation is passed’.

That means that with Mr Johnson failing to get a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote on his Brexit deal, he has had to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension.

Sir Oliver, who lost the Tory whip for voting against the Government on Brexit previously, said the amendment was designed to act as ‘insurance’ against the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal by mistake on the scheduled deadline of October 31.

How did the Government react?

The Prime Minister decided not to have a so-called ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal in light of the amendment.

However, Mr Johnson insisted that the government would still push ahead and bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation needed for Brexit – to the Commons next week.

Could Mr Johnson still get his deal through Parliament?

There is still the possibility that Mr Johnson could get his deal through Parliament before the October 31 deadline, but time is running out and the European Parliament would also need to ratify it.

Independent MP Oliver Letwin is pictured at Whitehall, after parliament discussed Brexit, sitting on a Saturday for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War, in London, Britain, October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
MPs voted by a majority of 16 to back an amendment put forward by former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin to ‘withhold approval of the deal agreed between Mr Johnson and Brussels unless and until implementing legislation is passed’ (Picture: Reuters)

Without a meaningful vote, support for the agreement has not yet been tested.

The prime minister still has to overcome strong opposition from the, DUP which has said it will not back the deal.

If there is to be another vote, when will it happen?

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, said the government wants to hold another meaningful vote on Mr Johnson’s deal on Monday.

Britain's Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks ahead of a vote on the prime minister's renegotiated Brexit deal, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday", in London, Britain October 19, 2019. ??UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks ahead of a vote on the prime minister’s renegotiated Brexit deal (Picture: Reuters)

The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, said he would consider whether to allow the government’s plans.

Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant said, in a point of order, that it is not good practice for a Government to keep holding debates on the exact same subject.

What about the letters sent last night?

Under the terms of the so-called Benn Act, which MP’s passed in a bid to block a no-deal Brexit, Mr Johnson was compelled to write to the EU asking for a three-month Brexit extension after the failure to secure a deal by 11pm yesterday.

The prime minister told the Commons: ‘I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so.’

But the Prime Minister did send two letters to European Council President Donald Tusk.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks ahead of a vote on his renegotiated Brexit deal, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday", in the House of Commons in London, Britain October 19, 2019. ??UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Boris Johnson was forced to write a letter to the EU yesterday to ask for a request (Picture: Reuters)

First, there was an unsigned photocopy of the request he was obliged to send under the Benn Act, followed by a letter explaining why the Government did not actually want an extension.

There was also an explanatory letter from Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU, which was sent to Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union.

Will the EU agree to an extension?

Despite European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker raising doubts over another Brexit delay, the decision needs to be taken by all 27 remaining EU states, not him.

However, the EU could set a different length to an extension, either shorter or longer than the three-month one cited in the Benn Act.

Speaker John Bercow announces the result of the vote on the deal delay at the House of Commons as parliament discusses Brexit, sitting on a Saturday for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War, in London, Britain, October 19, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Parliament TV via REUTERS
Commons Speaker, John Bercow, said he would consider whether to allow the government’s plans (Picture: Reuters)

The EU could decide not to formally respond to such a letter from the PM, until it sees if Mr Johnson can get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament next week.

Will there be an emergency EU summit?

If the PM gets the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through, there could be a special gathering of leaders on October 28.

If the deal needs more time at that stage to get through Parliament, leaders could agree to a short extension.


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