Politics

MPs withhold approval for Brexit deal – so what happens next?

MPs have voted not to give their approval to the prime minister’s Brexit deal until he has passed all necessary legislation – so what happens now?

The result will effectively force Boris Johnson to seek an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period tonight, possibly delaying Brexit beyond 31 October.

This flies in the face of his promise to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “do or die”.

MPs voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment, proposed by former Conservative minister Sir Oliver Letwin, to a motion on the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

It stated the House of Commons “withholds approval” for the Brexit deal “unless and until implementing legislation is passed”.

TONIGHT

Due to legislation passed last month by opposition MPs, known as the Benn Act, the prime minister is compelled to ask the EU for a three-month delay to Brexit beyond 31 October.

This is because he has failed to win the House of Commons’ support for a Brexit deal, while MPs have also not explicitly endorsed a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson has previously said he will comply with the law, raising expectations he will write a letter to the EU requesting an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.

But the prime minister told MPs he “will not negotiate a delay with the EU” and will tell member states that “further delay will be bad for this country, bad for the EU and bad for democracy”.

This has raised expectations Mr Johnson could formally request a Brexit delay, but then urge the EU not to grant it.

MONDAY

The government will make a second attempt to have a meaningful vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal on Monday.

Such a vote is required under the terms of last year’s EU Withdrawal Act in order for parliament to give its approval to a withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, which sets out the framework for the future UK-EU relationship.

However, it is not clear whether the government will be permitted to hold such a vote.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs the “apparent purpose” of Monday’s vote was to “invalidate or obviate the effect” of Sir Oliver’s amendment.

He said he would provide a ruling on whether to grant such a vote after he had “reflected on this matter”.

It has been suggested that if the government did win a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal on Monday, the prime minister could withdraw a request for an Article 50 extension.

THEN

The prime minister told MPs he will next week “introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the EU with our new deal on 31 October”.

This will be a withdrawal agreement bill, which is needed to put the Brexit deal into UK law.

Opposition MPs could attempt to frustrate the prime minister’s Brexit strategy by amending the bill to include provisions for membership of the EU single market, customs union or even attaching a condition for a second EU referendum.

Labour could table their own amendment for a “confirmatory referendum” on the Brexit deal.

The government will also fear losing a vote on the timetable for the legislation, which could thwart their plans to get the legislation passed in time for 31 October.

THE EU SAYS YES OR NO TO A FRESH BREXIT DELAY

If the prime minister does request an Article 50 extension, it will only be accepted if all 27 EU member states approve it.

This means each and every EU country has a veto on whether to grant an extension.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been the most sceptical about the need for a new Brexit delay, but it’s unclear whether he would actually block a fresh extension.

31 OCTOBER

The prime minister still hopes this will be the day the UK leaves the EU.

And, if he passes the necessary Brexit legislation by this date, it could still be the case.

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