Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill passes Parliament but lawmakers reject timetable
22 October 2019, 21:38
British MPs gave Brexit legislation its first nod of approval in parliament, voting 329 to 299 to approve the second reading of the 110-page withdrawal bill. The legislation will now move to on to the Committee Stage.
MPs are now voting on whether to back the government’s timetable for approving the bill, which would see it concluded by Thursday.
It comes after Johnson confirmed reports during the first debate on the bill in the House of Commons that Downing Street would pull the Brexit bill and push for an early election in the event that MPs rejects the legislation’s timetable and the EU accepts a delay.
“If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this and with great regret… I must say that the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward…to a general election,” Johnson said.
The government would like to rush through the legislation in just three days, moving to the report stage and third reading by Thursday.
Hannah White, from the Institute of Government, wrote in a blog post that the timeline would be “deeply inadequate for any major piece of government legislation”.
On Monday, Johnson failed in his attempt to bring the new Brexit deal for a straight ‘yes or no’ vote. The House of Commons passed on Saturday an amendment that would see MPs withhold their approval until the Prime Minister brought forth viable legislation before Parliament.
It wasn’t clear on Tuesday, however, whether or not the EU would allow for a Brexit extension, as the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at this stage that the lack of agreement in the UK meant there was no justification for a delay.