Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

19.35 22 Oct 2019


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MPs have voted to reject the British government's timetable to debate the Brexit timetable, in another major defeat for the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It was rejected by 322 votes to 308 - with Mr Johnson confirming he's now "pausing" the legislation in the wake of the vote.

It has prompted the European Council President Donald Tusk to recommend EU leaders accept the recent request from the UK for an extension beyond October 31st:

A reluctant Boris Johnson was legally obliged to seek a request at the weekend, after the deal agreed with the EU failed to proceed to a 'meaningful vote'.

In an initial vote this evening, MPs backed moving the Brexit deal bill to a 'second reading' - allowing it to progress to the next stage in the parliamentary process - by 329 votes to 299.

While it was a key victory for the British prime minister, MPs quickly moved on to another major vote - on whether to accept the 'programme motion' or schedule to get the necessary legislation passed.

The government proposed a three-day timetable to get the deal through the House of Commons ahead of the October 31st Brexit deadline.

However, that plan was rejected by MPs with a majority of 14 - significantly impacting the chances of the UK leaving the EU next week.

Speaking after the vote, Boris Johnson argued: "I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK would be in a position to leave the EU on October 31st without a deal.

"The EU must now make up their minds over how to answer parliament's request for a delay.

"I will speak to EU member states about their intentions. Until they have reached a decision, we will pause this legislation."

However, he thanked members who backed the second reading vote.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was offering the prime minister a chance to work with all MPs to agree a "reasonable timetable".

He argued: "I suspect this House will vote to debate, scrutinise and I hope amend the detail of this bill... that would be the sensible way forward."

Boris Johnson has already sent the request to the EU for a Brexit extension - although also sent another letter outlining why he was opposed to such a delay.

EU leaders have said they wanted to see how events played out in Westminster before making a decision.

Debate

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Boris Johnson urged all sides to back his agreement.

He said: "I will in no way allow months more of this.

"If parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen, and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this.

"And with great regret, I must say that the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election."

Opposition MPs, however, had raised serious concerns about not having the time to properly examine and debate the lengthy bill.

It runs to 110 pages with another 124 pages of explanatory notes, with MPs only receiving the legislation last night.

Mr Corbyn earlier had called the situation "utterly ludicrous" - saying the legislation would have "huge implications" for people and needed proper scrutiny.

Main image: File photo of Boris Johnson and Donald Tusk. Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

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