Brexit vote: What happens next as Boris Johnson’s EU deal hangs in the balance
Ahead of a make-or-break week, we look at how the next few days could shape the Brexit process
“Super Saturday” ended in disappointment for the prime minister after a backbench effort led by Sir Oliver Letwin derailed his plans for a vote on his deal and forced him to write a letter to the EU asking for an extension.
Despite being compelled to ask for the delay, Mr Johnson is still pressing ahead with his plans to leave the EU by Halloween.
Ahead of a make-or-break week, we look at how the next few days could shape the Brexit process.
Another meaningful vote
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, told MPs that the government would try to hold another so-called meaningful vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal on Monday.
No 10 thinks it might have the numbers to squeak through the vote, if it can get enough support from Labour MPs in Leave-voting seats, expelled Tories and hard-line Brexiteers.
However, John Bercow, the Speaker, refused this request on Monday afternoon as Commons rules state that the government cannot repeatedly ask MPs to vote on the same thing.
Mr Johnson had tabled a motion on his Brexit deal on Saturday – but never pushed it to a vote – so the Speaker ruled that the government could not try again for a vote so soon afterwards.
Downing Street had said it will still pull the vote if any rebel amendments were added which would “render [it] pointless”.
Battle over the Brexit deal legislation
The government is expected to introduce the legislation to enact the Brexit deal in the Commons on Monday, with a second reading vote on Tuesday.
Known as the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), this would enshrine the prime minister’s deal in law.
If Mr Bercow blocks the meaningful vote on Monday, the government will fix all of its efforts on pushing the WAB through parliament before the Brexit deadline.
The parliamentary timetable is very tight – and there is shaping up to be a clash over the programme motion, which sets out the timings for the bill’s passage.
To meet the deadline, the WAB needs to pass its Commons stages by the end of the week and the Lords would need to sit at the weekend before the bill returns next week for MPs to scrutinise any changes made by peers.
Opposition MPs could refuse to support the programme motion and ask for more time, derailing the government’s timetable.
Labour has also made clear it will try to hijack the legislation by putting down amendments for a Final Say referendum and a customs union with the EU.
Will the EU grant an extension?
The prime minister was compelled to write to the EU asking for a three-month delay to Brexit on Saturday, after he failed to pass his deal within the deadline set out by the Benn Act.
Mr Johnson told the Commons he would not negotiate a delay and “neither does the law compel me to do so”.
Late on Saturday night, he did write to the EU but sent an unsigned photocopy of the request he was obliged to send under the Benn Act, followed by a letter explaining why the government did not actually want an extension.
Crucially, if the government can pass the WAB by the 31 October deadline, it will override the request for an extension.
Donald Tusk, European Council president, said he would now start “consulting EU leaders on how to react” but they may decide to wait until they see if Mr Johnson can get his deal through parliament.
There could be an emergency EU summit to agree a short extension next week, if the prime minister does achieve support for his deal.