Brexit: UK Parliament holds session to decide on British PM’s deal

PTI London | Updated on October 19, 2019 Published on October 19, 2019

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. File photo   -  AFP

This is the first weekend session in almost four decades

British lawmakers are holding their first weekend sitting in almost four decades to vote on whether to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the European Union and finally let the UK leave the bloc at the end of this month.

At least, that’s the government’s plan. Some lawmakers have other ideas, and may yet delay the final decision — more than three years after British voters opted to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Since striking a deal with the 27 other European Union (EU) nations on Thursday, Johnson has been imploring and arm-twisting both Conservative and opposition lawmakers as he tries to win majority support for his deal.

Johnson’s Conservative Party holds only 288 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, so he will have to rely on support from other parties and independent lawmakers to get over the line.

The result looks set to be close, although Johnson has had some success winning over both hard-core Conservative Brexiteers and a handful of opposition Labour lawmakers who represent pro-Brexit parts of the country.

“Bring an end to a painful chapter in our history”

Johnson hopes for success in getting a fractious Parliament to back the deal after his predecessor, Theresa May, failed three times to get lawmakers behind her plan.

He told the media on Saturday, “A vote for the plan would bring a painful chapter in our history to an end.

As lawmakers gathered inside Parliament — their first Saturday sitting since the 1982 Falklands War — tens of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators were expected to march on the building, calling for a new referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain.

Many lawmakers want to rule out the possibility that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal on the October 31 deadline — a prospect economists say would disrupt trade and plunge the economy into recession.

A proposed amendment to Saturday’s vote would withhold approval of the deal until all the necessary legislation to implement it has passed.

One of the lawmakers behind the measure, Oliver Letwin, said it would prevent the UK from leaving at the end of the month “by mistake if something goes wrong during the passage of the implementing legislation.”

If that amendment is chosen for a vote by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow and passes, Johnson will have to ask the EU for a delay to Britain’s departure date. Last month Parliament passed a law compelling the government to do that if no deal is approved by Saturday.

Published on October 19, 2019
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