Johnson Aims to Push Through Brexit Deal, MPs Forecast to Approve

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses a press conference during an European Union Summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019. (Photo by THIERRY ROGE / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT (Photo by THIERRY ROGE/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)
THIERRY ROGE/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Analysts predict MPs could back Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill, with the prime minister pushing to have all legislation passed to allow for Brexit by October 31st.

The Conservative government has published its 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which it hopes to pass in the next three days, to keep the Brexit process on schedule.

“The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders, and neither do I.

“I hope Parliament today votes to take back control for itself and the British people and the country can start to focus on the cost of living, the NHS, and conserving our environment,” Mr Johnson said in comments reported by the BBC.

There will be two votes on Tuesday: one to approve the proposal in principle, followed by a vote on the schedule of debate and possible amendments.

Analysts, including from the establishment Financial Times, have predicted that the bill will be approved. The FT said the prime minister has a “fighting chance” to get the deal through the House of Commons — even without having to compromise on the Customs Union or holding a second referendum.

Speaker of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and foreign secretary Dominic Raab are confident that deal will pass. While the government may lose the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), insiders have said the WAB has garnered backing from some Labour rebels and several expelled Tory MPs. Members of the influential Conservative European Reseach Group (ERG) — the Spartans — are also said to have backed down over their clean-break Brexit stance and are willing to “choke down our pride and vote in the national interest”.

Even if the government wins both votes on Tuesday, the bill will be further subject to votes on amendments which could frustrate Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans. However, the FT‘s analysis suggests Remainer MPs may fail in their endeavours as politics in parliament has shifted.

The newspaper predicts that a vote on an amendment forcing the UK into a customs union with the EU would be defeated by a more considerable margin than when a similar motion was previously defeated, then by a slim margin of three. Likewise, the last time a vote on holding a second referendum was held, it lost by one, with the FT predicting this time around, it could lose as many as 41.

Even if projections are correct, MPs may vote down the three-day timetable on claims that it does not allow for enough scrutiny. Mr Rees-Mogg has warned that if lawmakers reject the intensive schedule, the UK will not leave the EU on time.

“People who do not vote for the programme motion will not be voting for Brexit on October 31,” Mr Rees-Mogg reminded MPs.

If the bill fails, the default legal position is leaving without a deal; however, the Benn Act forced the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension last Saturday. Europeans are reserving their decision on the extension until further developments from London.

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