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Brexit: MPs reject Boris Johnson’s attempt to fast-track deal

A letter Johnson was forced by law to send to the bloc after failing to secure backing for his deal on October 19 called for a three-month extension.

SNS | New Delhi |

UK Prime Minister hit the pause button on Tuesday on his Brexit legislation after MPs rejected his plan to get it through the Commons in three days, according to reports.

Now it is for the EU leaders to consider whether to grant a delay to the October 31 deadline and if yes, then what extent, the BBC reported.

A letter Johnson was forced by law to send to the bloc after failing to secure backing for his deal on October 19 called for a three-month extension.

According to Drowning Street source, Johnson would not accept such a lengthy extension.

“On Saturday, Parliament asked for a delay until January and today Parliament blew its last chance,” the BBC quoted a source as saying. “If Parliament’s delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election. This Parliament is broken.”

On Tuesday, MPs approved the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill on its first hurdle through the Commons — called the second reading — by 329 votes to 299.

Earlier on Monday, Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, told lawmakers that a debate on the bill would start with ministers hoping to get it through all its House of Commons stages by Thursday.

The bill was published just hours after the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, rejected a government’s bid for a meaningful vote on the London-Brussels Brexit agreement in the day.

The development comes after MPs in a historic Saturday session in the House of Commons voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment withholding the approval of Johnson’s deal until all the necessary legislation was completed.

Last week, Johnson took to Twitter, and said, “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control”.

The new deal is largely the same as the one agreed by former Prime Minister Theresa May last year – but it removes the controversial backstop clause, which critics say could have kept the UK tied indefinitely to EU customs rules.

However, Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was “very hard to see how it is possible” for the bill to pass through the Commons and the Lords before October 31, adding that Brexit was now in “purgatory”.

After the vote, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that he would recommend European leaders backed an extension to the Brexit deadline, though he did not say what length it should be.

The whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union, meaning it could strike trade deals with other countries in the future. The EU is now considering how to respond to the UK’s request for a delay but has said Saturday’s developments did not mean that the deal had been rejected. The UK is due to leave the EU at 11 pm on October 31.

Johnson is likely to go for an election within months regardless since he has no majority. If he passes a deal unamended, then the election could not be until next year otherwise, he could proceed to an election pretty quickly in order to try to get a mandate for leaving with the agreement he negotiated.

(With inputs from agency)