Wednesday, Oct 05

Commons reject Johnson’s Brexit bill

Losing the vote on the timetable does not kill the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, but does make its passage before Oct. 31 highly unlikely.
23.10.2019 - 10:18

The British parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to fast-track a Brexit law through parliament, making a delay beyond the Oct. 31 exit date almost inevitable, and casting the entire EU divorce into doubt.


After agreeing a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU last week, Johnson was trying to pass the domestic law needed to enact it.

The 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill would typically be scrutinized over weeks and months, but Johnson proposed condensing the timetable to just a few days.

That proposal was rejected by 322 votes to 308 on Tuesday. The defeat leaves Johnson with no clear way to deliver his Brexit deal on time.

Johnson had earlier warned lawmakers that he would abandon the legislation if the EU decides to delay Brexit until Jan. 31, 2020. He would then try to get parliament to agree to hold an early election. However, he has not said he would ditch the bill if the EU granted a shorter extension.

This leaves open the possibility that the EU agrees a short extension to allow parliament more time to scrutinize the bill and Johnson proposes a new slightly longer timetable to lawmakers.

This would break Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but could still allow him to say in a subsequent election campaign that he had delivered Brexit.