06:27 GMT05 August 2020
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    Final Countdown? UK, EU Strike Brexit Deal (28)

    After securing a deal with the European Union and successfully removing the contentious Irish Backstop from the previous agreement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson must now secure a victory in the House of Commons with a majority agreeing to support the withdrawal agreement.

    Labour plans to back an amendment which would force the Prime Minister to request a Brexit extension if a deal has not been agreed to in Parliament by the end of Saturday, according to the Guardian's Heather Stewart.

    The motion was tabled by Sir Oliver Letwin, the former Tory cabinet minister, on Friday which ensures that when the Commons readies to vote Boris Johnson's withdrawal agreement tomorrow, it will be possible for MPs to debate and vote on multiple amendments. The government was defeated by 12 votes on the motion.

    The amendment would remove the government motion almost entirely confirming that the Commons has approved the Brexit deal and says that Parliament is currently withholding approval of the deal until legislation implementing it has been written into law.

    ​Since the amendment was tabled, it has received significant cross-party support, including Labour's Hilary Benn of the Brexit committee, Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, and Philip Hammond, the former chancellor of the exchequer under Theresa May.

    The aim is to close a loophole in the Benn act which Johnson could exploit, that in the event that no withdrawal agreement is passed by the 31 October, the UK would leave without a deal by default.

    The Letwin amendment forces him to request a Brexit extension if a deal has not been passed by the end of tomorrow, with the provision that if an agreement is made before the end of October, the extension can be revoked.

    Therefore if the Letwin bill passes tomorrow, the vote on Johnson's deal will not be make-or-break. MPs will instead be voting that they are considering the deal but are withholding approval.

    This means that, assuming Johnson intends to honour the governments confirmation to the court of session in Scotland earlier this month, he will have to pen a request to the EU for an extension.

    Johnson's options would then be attempting to get an agreement through on the 31 October or agree to the extension and call the election which Labour has confirmed they will support in that event, campaigning on the basis of implementing his deal.

    Currently restricting the Prime Minister from leaving without a deal is the Benn act, passed by 29 votes, which prevents no deal being a legal possibility. 

    Final Countdown? UK, EU Strike Brexit Deal (28)


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