British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a major showdown in the United Kingdom’s Parliament over his promise to lead the country out of the European Union by the end of this month.
As the clock ticks down towards the UK’s scheduled October 31 divorce date, Brexit hangs in the balance as a deeply-divided Parliament debates when, how and even whether it should happen.
In another day of high political drama, MPs will vote at about 18:00GMT on the 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill and then vote on the government’s proposed three-day timetable for approving the legislation.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, October 22
Letwin urges MPs to back Brexit bill timetable
Former Conservative Party MP Oliver Letwin – who over the weekend headed a successful push to withhold approval of Johnson’s Brexit deal until all the legislation needed to implement it has been passed through parliament – said he will back the government’s Brexit bill timetable.
Letwin said he was “seriously worried” the government would pull the Brexit bill, as threatened, if the programme motion setting out the timetable was rejected by MPs.
“Surely best for all of us who regard this deal as the least of the evils to vote for the Programme Motion, whatever we really think of it,” he said in a post on Twitter.
Getting seriously worried that HMG will pull Bill if Programme Motion is defeated. Surely best for all of us who regard this deal as the least of the evils to vote for the Programme Motion, whatever we really think of it.
— Oliver Letwin (@oletwinofficial) October 22, 2019
French foreign minister cool on Brexit extension
France sees no grounds to extend Brexit, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“At this stage, we consider that there is no justification for a new extension,” Le Drian told the French parliament.
Labour Party will not support Brexit deal or timetable, Corbyn says
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said his party would not support Johnson’s Brexit deal or his timetable to pass the legislation for it through Parliament.
“My own view is that we should vote against this bill this evening,” Corbyn told Parliament, adding that Labour would also oppose the timetable for passage of the legislation through the House of Commons.
Labour opposes Boris Johnson’s #SellOutDeal. It will hit the poorest parts of our country the hardest.
Labour will fight to safeguard workers’ rights, protect our economy and ensure the people are given the final say. pic.twitter.com/BX5cp5Huh4
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) October 22, 2019
EU team to begin work on post-Brexit ties on November 16
The European Commission team in charge of negotiating the Brexit divorce deal will become the “Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom” and is due to start work on November 16, the Commission said in a statement.
The task force will begin its work regardless of developments in the UK, the Commission’s statement said, and will continue to be headed by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
“It will be in charge of the finalisation of [Brexit] negotiations, as well as the commission’s ‘no-deal’ preparedness work,” the statement added.
Johnson threatens to pull Brexit bill
Johnson said he would scrap his Brexit legislation and push for an election if MPs reject the government’s accelerated three-day timetable for passing the bill.
“The bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election,” Johnson told Parliament.
EU will not reopen Brexit deal, Johnson says
Johnson said the EU will not reopen the Brexit deal he had brokered with the bloc if MPs seek to change it by amending the ratifying legislation.
“Our European friends could not be clearer: the deal on the table is the one contained in this bill and the decision for this House is whether to ratify this deal rather than going round in circles in a futile attempt to construct a new one,” he said.
Read more about the deal here.
EU to decide in ‘coming days’ on Brexit extension
European Council President Donald Tusk said EU leaders “will decide in coming days” whether to grant Britain another extension to the deadline for leaving the bloc, based on developments in Westminster.
Tusk said that the decision on prolonging Brexit for three months after October 31, as requested by Johnson over the weekend, “will very much depend on what the British Parliament decides or doesn’t decide”.