Johnson Revives Push to Get Brexit Deal Passed as Optimism Grows
(Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson is making a fresh bid to deliver on his promise to take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 amid mounting optimism that he now has the backing to get his deal through Parliament.
Cabinet ministers made clear the prime minister is undeterred after a vote on Saturday forced him to write to the EU asking for a three-month delay to the deadline.
Johnson will on Monday ask the House of Commons to support his deal with the EU in a new “meaningful vote,” a test he was denied Saturday after lawmakers voted in favor of an amendment that sought more time for the agreement to be scrutinized.
That puts Johnson on a possible collision course with Commons Speaker John Bercow, who could decide not to allow the the vote because it amounts to asking the same question twice in the same session in breach of parliamentary rules.
At the same time, the government will introduce the legislation needed to deliver Brexit in the hope of fast-tracking the bill through both houses of Parliament in time for Oct. 31.
The government was defeated in the amendment vote, brought by former Conservative Minister Oliver Letwin, by just 16 votes. Ministers insisted on Sunday that it now has the backing of the 320 members of Parliament needed to win.
“We appear to have the numbers to get this through,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr Show.”
That optimism was shared by Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, who said the risk of a no-deal Brexit had increased because there was no guarantee the EU would grant Britain’s request for an extension.
The government confirmed on Sunday it was triggering Operation Yellowhammer, its contingency plan to make sure Britain can deal with the fallout from a chaotic departure from the EU.
Johnson made clear to the EU that he’d rather Britain leave without delay and he refused to sign the letter requesting an extension, one of three sent to Brussels late Saturday. European Council President Donald Tusk is now consulting member states on how to respond.
The Times of London on Sunday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, said the EU is ready to grant a three-month extension if Parliament fails to approve the deal, with the U.K. able to leave on the 1st or 15th of November, December or January if an accord is ratified. If Johnson calls a second referendum, or meets other obstacles, governments led by Germany would push for a longer extension, possibly pushing the deadline to June 2020, the Times said.
Johnson received a boost when former cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who walked out of the government and the Tory party in protest at the expulsion of 21 colleagues, said she and many among those who were kicked out are ready to support his deal.
The prime minister also has the backing of a small number of Labour MPs, though he may struggle to win over many more. Crucially, Labour wants a customs union with the EU and for any deal to be put to another referendum with an option to stay in the bloc, demands on which there appears little room for compromise.
The main opposition party was last night accused of trying to obstruct Brexit after Keir Starmer, its Brexit spokesman, said Labour would back amendments on a second referendum and a customs union.
Though it is doubtful that either proposal could command a majority in the Commons, Starmer made a direct appeal to the Conservatives’ former allies in the Democratic Unionist Party, who might be persuaded to rethink their previous opposition to a customs union due to concerns that Johnson’s deal puts up trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
The DUP’s 10 votes on Saturday made the difference between defeat and victory, and there are no signs they are softening. The party has deep reservations about anything that creates any kind of border between Britain and Northern Ireland, such as customs checks in the Irish Sea, and wants a stronger consent mechanism that hands a greater say to the regional assembly.
Source : Bloomberg Link