Boris Johnson publishes his Brexit Withdrawal Bill: PM unveils 110-page 'declaration of independence' (with 124 pages of explanatory notes) just hours before MPs start to debate it - as he bids to push it through Parliament in THREE DAYS
The Prime Minister wants to pass his Brexit deal through the Commons in just three days as he attempts to avoid another delay to Britain's departure from the EU by October 31.The Prime Minister hopes to speed his Brexit deal through the Commons in just three days as he attempts to avoid another delay and take Britain out of the EU by October 31.
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Voting in the dark?
After months of being imprisoned by his lack of a parliamentary majority, Boris Johnson is hoping for a jailbreak that will finally free him to deliver Brexit. And in one of the most curious quirks of this entire saga, it may be his gaolers who hand him the keys to his Commons cell.
Boris Johnson loses crucial vote on 31 October Brexit timetable - with delay likely
Brexit plans in chaos despite passage of Withdrawal Agreement Bill on second readingThe Government lost the vote on the programme motion by 308-322.
In what looks like a classic divide-and-rule tactic, the PM seems to be using the flipside of a hung parliament - the sheer lack of numbers for an alternative Brexit plan - to exploit the deep-seated tensions between the SNP, Lib Dems and Labour and other parties.
On Tuesday, when Johnson tables his new Elections Bill to fix the date of the next election as December 12, there will be a huge temptation by opposition parties to finally bite the bullet and support a pre-Christmas polling day.
Video: 'Die in a ditch - another broken promise' (Sky News)
They’re going to try and make him sweat, no doubt. The date may well be tweaked to December 11 or 10 to look like there’s been some give-and-take on all sides. Crucially, No.10 is telling us that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will not be brought back, a key demand of both the SNP’s Ian Blackford and Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson.
Boris Johnson in fresh push for UK general election
Prime minister Boris Johnson is to launch a third attempt to secure a UK general election and regain the initiative on Brexit. Mr Johnson will table a parliamentary motion seeking an election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act on Thursday night, to be voted on by MPs on Monday. The move will force the Labour party to decide if it will enable the prime minister to hold an election on December 12. If the parliamentary motion is approved, the government will then propose a new timetable to get Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal on to the statute book by November 6.
Moreover, wrecking amendments to give votes to 16-year-olds, or EU citizens, look unlikely to be red lines for either party. Their bigger calculation appears to be that this is their last chance to fight an election in which a ‘Boris Brexit’ is still a hypothetical issue rather than hard fact.
What next for Brexit? Follow key developments, expert analysis and multiple perspectives as the UK edges closer to leaving the EU
The very notion of a winter election would normally be frowned upon by parties who have strong Scots roots. If you need one example for how difficult it may be, regardless of the weather, to get out the vote, consider this: in Shetland on December 12, the sun rises at 9am and sets at 3pm. And that’s in the seat of Lib Dem veteran Alistair Carmichael. People will literally be voting in the dark.
Back in January 2013, then-British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that he is in favour of an in-out referendum, sometime in the future, to create a new settlement for the U.K. in the European Union (EU). It set in motion a series of negotiations between the two bodies over the former's withdrawal from the latter, popularly known as Brexit.
Lib Dems and SNP set to offer Johnson path to snap election
The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have joined forces to back a change in the law to try to trigger a general election in December, which would give Boris Johnson the snap poll he has been demanding. The prime minister has proposed holding an election on 12 December but needs two-thirds of the 650 MPs in parliament to back his plan in a Commons vote on Monday.It will be his third attempt at getting support for the UK to go to the polls.
We take a look at a timeline of the negotiations and some of Brexit’s most important developments so far.
Led by Cameron (pictured), the Conservative Party launched its manifesto for the 2015 General Election, which pledged a “real change in our relationship with the European Union.” The party also declared it will hold an in-out referendum “before the end of 2017.” The Conservatives eventually went on to win the election.
In the House of Commons, Cameron announced the date for the EU referendum to be June 23, 2016. The government also published their policy paper titled “The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom's special status in a reformed European Union.”
Nov. 3, 2016: High Court passes judgement in Gina Miller case
Earlier in 2016, activist Gina Miller (pictured) had brought a case against the British government, saying it doesn’t have the authority to implement Brexit without an approval from the Parliament. On this day, the High Court found the case in favor of the claimants, enabling the Parliament to play a key role in Brexit. The government said it would appeal against the decision. It later lost this appeal.
EU-27 (European Union countries except for the U.K.) members met for the first time since the triggering of Article 50, adopting the guidelines for Brexit negotiation ahead.
Meanwhile, the U.K. government released the “Northern Ireland and Ireland Position Paper,” which clarified how the nation planned to handle the situation of Northern Ireland and Ireland in light of Brexit.
EU grants Brexit delay to Jan. 31; UK ponders new election
LONDON (AP) — The European Union agreed Monday to delay Brexit by three months until Jan. 31, acting to avert a chaotic U.K. departure just three days before Britain was due to become the first country ever to leave the 28-nation bloc. The decision was welcomed by politicians in the U.K. and the EU as a temporary respite from Brexit anxiety — but not by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said just weeks ago that he would "rather be deadThe decision was welcomed by politicians in the U.K. and the EU as a temporary respite from Brexit anxiety — but not by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said just weeks ago that he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than postpone the U.K.'s leaving date past Oct. 31.
(Pictured) European Council President Donald Tusk speaks at a conference after the EU-27 meet.
The General Election resulted in a hung Parliament. May formed a minority government as the Conservatives won more seats, but would heavily rely on support from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland for key votes.
The EU-27 nations decided upon new seats for two EU agencies, which were based in the U.K. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands (pictured), while the European Banking Authority (EBA) moved to Paris, France.
Feb. 28, 2018: Draft for withdrawal agreement published
The European Commission published the draft titled “Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” based on reports from the first phase of negotiations.
The draft proposed that Northern Ireland would act as a “customs territory” of the EU. May responded that no prime minister could “ever agree” with it and added that such a move would “undermine the U.K. common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.”
This election is make or break for Boris Johnson and his Brexit dream
This election is make or break for Boris Johnson and his Brexit dreamBoris Johnson hasn't managed to give us a Brexit Halloween but this week parliament voted to give us a Christmas election instead.
Marking one year to go until Brexit, May paid a visit to each nation of the U.K., promising that only such a Brexit deal will be delivered which works for every community and also protects the integrity of the nation.
The British Cabinet met at Chequers, the country house of the prime minister, to hash out their differences and reach a collective position for future Brexit negotiations. It was decided that the proposals would be published as White Paper in the following days. While the Cabinet formally endorsed May’s idea for a U.K.-EU Free Trade Area, it questioned the Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU.
July 9, 2018: David Davis and Boris Johnson resign
Not happy with how the U.K. was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned, along with Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary Boris Johnson. Dominic Raab was appointed as the new Brexit Secretary.
At an informal summit of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, May gave a speech on the latest developments. The main component of her plan for a post-Brexit relationship was strongly opposed, leading her to warn that she would walk away from the discussions if no deal could be reached.
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Citing his opposition to the Withdrawal Agreement, Raab resigned from the Cabinet, along with other ministers such as Brexit Undersecretary Suella Braverman and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
In a short statement outside 10 Downing Street, May said, “The British people want this to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.”
While addressing the House of Commons on exiting the European Union, the Prime Minister announced a delay to the Meaningful Vote (which ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement), which was planned to be held the following day, saying, “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.”
British firm Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8 million contract by the Government to run extra ferries between Ramsgate, England, and Ostend, Belgium, if a no-deal Brexit takes place. The move raised major concerns as the company had never run a ferry service before.
Marking a huge blow to May, the Members of Parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit. They also asked the government to seek permission from the EU to extend Article 50, which meant extending the deadline for departure.
The EU agreed a short extension to the Brexit deadline, offering the date of May 22, 2019 (if May can get her Brexit deal passed) and April 12, 2019 (if not). The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that the nation may face a national emergency over Brexit.
May told Conservative lawmakers that she would step down if Parliament approved her plan for withdrawal. “I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that," the Prime Minister said. She did not specify when she would step down.
On the day the U.K. was supposed to withdraw from the EU, Parliament rejected May's withdrawal agreement a third time. The government lost by 344 votes to 286. In response to the vote, the EU planned an emergency summit on April 10 to discuss its next move.
April 2, 2019: Alternatives dismissed in indicative voting
Following the government's failure to pass May's withdrawal agreement through Parliament a third time, a second series of indicative votes by MPs resulted in the proposed Brexit alternatives - including a 'customs union' relationship with the bloc, a 'common market 2.0', and a second referendum - being rejected. Such an outcome means increasing government pressure to receive Parliamentary backing on May's deal, or to seek a long Brexit extension to avoid a no-deal scenario.
(Pictured) A Westminster City Council employee sweeps the street in front of 10 Downing Street in London, England on April 1, 2019.
With the House of Commons voting by 313 votes to 312 - a majority of one - on Labour member Yvette Cooper's bill that the Prime Minister must ask the EU for a further extension to Brexit, Theresa May wrote to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, seeking an additional delay until June 30, 2019. The extension would ostensibly provide the U.K. more time to move beyond the current Parliamentary impasse over Brexit.
(Pictured) A combination photo shows a copy of Prime Minister Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk, seeking an additional Brexit delay, in London, England on April 5, 2019.
April 11, 2019: 'Flexible' extension approved until Halloween
After Theresa May proposed a delay of June 30, 2019 to EU leaders, a longer extension of up to Oct. 31, 2019 was agreed by the EU27 just 48 hours before the U.K. was scheduled to leave the bloc without a deal. This longer extension includes a break clause allowing the U.K. to leave before October if a withdrawal agreement is passed through the House of Commons. While the delay means Britain avoids a hard Brexit in April, the country must now participate in European elections in May.
(Pictured) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk hold a news conference in Brussels, Belgium after EU leaders discuss Brexit on April 11, 2019.
The British prime minister announced that she will step down from her post on June 7, 2019. "It is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the U.K. for a new PM to lead that effort," she said.
July 23, 2019: Boris Johnson announced as Britain's next Prime Minister
The Tory politician defeated rival Jeremy Hunt to become the new leader of the Conservative party and the next Prime Minister of the UK by two thirds of the Conservative Party vote. Johnson stated his priorities were 'to deliver Brexit and unite the country'. Notably, he has previously refused to rule out a no deal Brexit scenario.
Aug. 25, 2019: Boris Johnson discusses trade deal with Donald Trump
The British Prime Minister held talks with the U.S. President Donald Trump during a breakfast meeting at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. Jonson said, “There is an opportunity to do a great free trade deal with the United States. The president is very gung-ho about that and so am I. They want to do it within a year, I'd love to do it within a year, but that's a very fast timetable.” Further, talking about Brexit he said a part of the bill would be withheld if there was no deal.
Oct. 2, 2019: Boris Johnson proposes final Brexit offer
Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed his final Brexit offer to take the U.K. out from the European Union by the end of the month. His latest proposal involves taking Northern Ireland out of the customs union – making checks and controls at the border mandatory – which is expected to have a severe effect on the country’s economy. At the Conservative Party conference, he said: “Voters are desperate for us to focus on other priorities… What people want, what ‘Leavers’ want, what ‘Remainers’ want, what the whole world wants is to move on. Let’s get Brexit done – we can, we must and we will.” He also added that if Belgium doesn’t engage with the proposal, there won’t be any further talks. He said: “The EU is obliged by EU law only to negotiate with member state governments, they cannot negotiate with Parliament, and this government will not negotiate a delay.”
Boris Johnson declared via Twitter that a new deal had been secured with the EU; "we’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment." The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured), also confirmed via Twitter that a deal had been agreed; "it’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions." The new deal will still need to pass through the House of Commons, however, before the U.K. can formally leave the European bloc.
The British Parliament sat on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years to debate and vote on Johnson's new Brexit deal. If the amendment is passed, the prime minister will write to the EU for a three-month extension to Brexit. However, if it fails, an election will likely follow.
Oct. 19, 2019: Government requests Brexit extension
The British government requested the EU for a delay in Brexit after the House of Commons voted 322-306 against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s no-deal departure set for Oct. 31. Johnson, in a signed letter addressed to the European Council President Donald Tusk, however, presented his argument against the extension. Another vote on the Brexit deal may happen on Oct. 21 if Speaker John Bercow gives his approval.
Following a government request to hold a straight 'yes' or 'no' vote on the most recent withdrawal agreement in parliament, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (pictured) refused on the grounds that such a motion would be "repetitive" and "disorderly".
Oct. 28, 2019: European leaders agree to extend date
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that the European Union leaders have agreed to extend Brexit until Jan. 31, 2020. Tusk called it a "flextension," which means that the U.K. could leave before the deadline, provided that a deal was approved by the parliament.
For Labour, it was the idea of a ‘blind Brexit’ (or the risk of a ‘no-deal Brexit’) that for so long justified its opposition to an election. Yet on Monday, the threat of a no-deal was ‘taken off the table’, at least until January 31, when the EU agreed the extension to the UK’s membership.
And just as Johnson managed to get a Brexit deal with Brussels by stripping away all the obstacles, excuses and red lines stopping one (including his own), so too he wants to remove all of Labour’s red lines. The aim is to force Corbyn into a position where he finally backs an election or is seen to be dragged against his will to the polls.
Corbyn added an extra reason/excuse (delete according to your view) on Monday night, namely the disenfranchisement of students who may be at home for Christmas by the time of Johnson’s preferred date. In a rare show of solidarity with Channel 4 News, No.10 pointed to its FactCheck finding that in fact not one of the largest 40 universities will have ended their term on December 12. Is Corbyn only really worried about Oxbridge students, whose term ends super early? Surely not?
Some Labour MPs were genuinely hoping that they could hold off polling day to the spring. That would require yet another Benn Act-style forcing of an extension on the PM, and another EU decision to agree a new deadline. A handful of Tory rebels actually favour a long extension to next summer to allow time for a second referendum, but that ship seems to have sailed.
Many in the parliamentary Labour party think Corbyn has failed to ram home Johnson’s own broken promise on his Halloween Brexit pledge. If an election does go ahead, the main story of this week will be about concrete December dates, not missed October deadlines.
In fact, Labour could end up the most divided party in this deeply divided parliament. If so, we will have gone full circle. It was 48 years ago precisely, on October 28, 1971, that the Commons voted by a majority of 112 to approve Ted Health’s British membership of the Common Market. It happened with the help of 69 Labour votes.
More importantly, Labour MPs and some close to Jeremy Corbyn would prefer to actually fight an election with Brexit already delivered, not least so they could clearly turn the contest into one about austerity rather than the issue of Europe.
Many others in the party wanted to at least amend the Brexit bill to remove the ‘trapdoor’ threat of a no-trade-deal exit during the transition period that lasts until December 2020. The fundamental problem with all such plans is that the SNP and Lib Dems just don’t want any Brexit at all, even if it is ‘soft’ or part of a new referendum.
And the harsh reality may be that months of cross-party cooperation are just too difficult to maintain, especially when different parties know they will soon be fighting each other and not just the Tories. The brute forces of political gravity, and enmity, are hard to defy.
‘A toxic, tedious torture of two more referendums, one on the EU and one on Scotland.’
– Boris Johnson sets out what 2020 would look like under Jeremy Corbyn.
Monday Cheat Sheet
Boris Johnson announced plans for a new Elections Bill to allow a simple majority vote to fix the date of the next election as December 12. His move came after the Commons failed to give him the two-thirds majority required an early polling day under current legislation.
Michael Gove paused no-deal preparations and the controversial ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ on October 31 ad campaign. No10 announced the news after Brussels agreed to a flexible extension to January 31.
Diane Abbott let slip her frustration with the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). “What I actually said in Shadow Cabinet today, ‘in the run-up to 2017 election, some Labour MPs were crying in my office and in the tearoom as if it’s a f***ing funeral, saying Jeremy should stand down, then they all got re-elected with increased majorities’.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz is facing suspension from the Commons for six months after he was found to have ‘expressed willingness’ to purchase cocaine for others. If MPs confirm the punishment, it will trigger the opening of a recall petition in his Leicester East constituency. If Labour suspend him, he will not be the candidate at the next election.
John Mann officially resigned as a Labour MP in order to take up a peerage and become an adviser on anti-Semitism for the Government. The move means the PM has one less vote in the Commons for his Brexit plan.
The People’s Vote campaign was plunged into more bitter infighting following an attempt to sack two senior figures, Tom Baldwin and James McGrory.
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