Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay
world

Johnson faces perilous Brexit ratification after deal vote blocked

37 Comments
By Kylie MacLellan and William James

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a potentially perilous ratification of his Brexit divorce deal in the British parliament after the speaker refused to allow a vote on it on Monday.

With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on Oct 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain's politicians argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.

The government is trying to force through the legislation needed for Britain to leave the bloc in the shortest time possible, drawing cries from opposition lawmakers that Johnson was trying to bully and rush lawmakers into passing the bill.

Earlier, House of Commons speaker John Bercow said a vote should not be allowed on Monday as the same issue had been discussed on Saturday when opponents turned Johnson's big Brexit day into a humiliation.

"In summary, today's motion is in substance the same as Saturday's motion and the House (of Commons) has decided the matter. Today's circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday's circumstances," Bercow told parliament.

"My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so," Bercow said, provoking the ire of Brexit supporting lawmakers who said they had been refused a chance to vote on Johnson's deal.

Bercow said the government could still secure ratification for the Brexit deal by Oct 31 if it had the numbers in parliament. Johnson was disappointed by the decision, a spokesman said.

But the speaker's decision means that the government will have to try to push on with the legislation needed for ratification, a process opponents are plotting to wreck with amendments that would destroy Johnson's deal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, said the government wanted the lower house of parliament to finish voting on the bill on Thursday, before it heads to the upper house, which also has to approve it before the Brexit deadline.

"Trying to ram through legislation of this complexity, significance and long lasting consequences in just 3 days is an abomination of scrutiny and democracy," said Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party.

Sterling traded at around $1.30, unaffected by the speaker's move.

Johnson was ambushed in parliament on Saturday by opponents who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which forced him to request a delay until Jan. 31.

He sent the note to the European Union unsigned - and added another signed letter arguing against what he said was a deeply corrosive delay.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said European Council President Donald Tusk had accepted the delay request as valid and was considering it.

The European Union, which has grappled with the Brexit crisis since Britons voted 52%-48% to leave in a 2016 referendum, decided on Sunday to play for time rather than rush to decide on Johnson's request for a delay.

From the bloc's point of view, extension options range from just an additional month until the end of November to half a year or longer.

The government insists Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31. Parliament will vote in the second reading on legislation known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday, after which amendments can be proposed to it.

Johnson's ministers said they were confident they had the numbers to push a deal through parliament, though there was concern that amendments could wreck Johnson's deal.

The opposition Labour Party is planning changes to the legislation needed for Brexit that would make the deal unacceptable to swathes of Johnson's own party -- including a proposal for another referendum.

Bercow's decision provoked criticism from Brexit supporters.

"It is becoming remarkable how often you please one lot and not the other lot," Bernard Jenkin, a pro-Brexit Conservative Party lawmaker, told parliament.

Bercow dismissed such criticism, saying his decision was honorable and based on a long-standing convention in the House of Commons.

"He is grumbling now because he doesn't like the judgement," Bercow said of Jenkin. "If the government have got the numbers, the government can have their way."

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill enshrines the Brexit deal, known as the Withdrawal Agreement in British law and must be passed before the treaty is considered to be ratified.

Previous bills to implement major European treaties have taken between 10 and 40 sitting days to get through parliament, according to the Institute of Government.

A spokesman for Johnson said that if the legislation strayed too far from the deal then its ratification would be placed in question.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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All these delays are indeed a shamble.

Democracy means the people have a right to vote.

The people voted.

They want out.

Do your job already and follow the wishes of the people.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

People got what they voted for

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The whole text.

I have read, but am not a lawyer, do have some economic and financial expertise but cannot confidently appraise the bill without a full and comprehensive economic impact assessment

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2019-2020/0007/20007.pdf

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bercow is the defender of British democracy ruling firmly but fairly between authoritarian Tory bluster and the new "Will of the People". In recent parliamentary history never has so much been owed by so many to one man.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I would hold a new referendum but at this point, they just need to do SOMETHING.

The people voted for Brexit and after all this time they have a pro-Brexit PM. I may as well just do what the polticos refuse to do, jump ship from my original position and say BREXIT NOW!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I don't believe a second referendum is either warranted or necessary. The process would be lengthy and could lead to civil unrest. The second referendum could have either, Johnson's deal or No deal, or Johnson's deal and Remain.

Can you not see the corrosive political outcome?

It is Brexit without end.

A General Election, is essential, this not a single issue any more, for better or for worse, let us so called dimwits or dumbo's decide, and live with the result.

Or let the Blair's, Campbell's, and Mandelson's decide for us.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It is Brexit without end.

If they had a non-binding referendum, it would be binding. It wouldn't be Brexit without end, because the government would be bound to follow through with the second referendum, unlike the first, to which they were/are not bound. That said:

A General Election, is essential

This could work too, though it would give a party a mandate, rather than having the population explicitly stating the option they prefer. I personally think that with the information I have at hand, I think a binding referendum would be more definitive and let the people explicitly declare what they want, without having to wrap that into the political mirings of the various parties agendas, but I have to admit I don't know enough about the different options to debate either side fully.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The "second vote=civil unrest" argument is a red herring. The highest support for Brexit was from people over the age of 50. British pensioners grumble, they do not riot (I'm 51). The Brexit March Nigel Farage organized with lots of publicity gathered about 100 people. Remain and Second Vote marches have been attended by over a million.

As for Brexit, it will still drag on if this passes. In fact it will drag on and on and be central to UK politics until all the new trade deals with major players are in place. The next deadline, the actual leaving one, in late 2020 is already likely to be extended or used as a cliff-edge to try to ram something divisive through. The provisions are already there for a one or two year extension written in the bill. "Just getting it done" is not going to happen. It is far too complex and far too important to leave to unconsidered snap decisions.

The government admitted yesterday that Johnson's deal means people in Northern Ireland will need to fill out a customs form to sell goods in the rest of the UK, the same country. It's like people in Hokkaido needing customs forms to sell potatoes in Tokyo, and is exactly the kind of bureaucracy people criticize the EU for.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Remove BJ with a no-confidence motion, bring in Corbyn, hold a second referendum, vote to remain in the EU, get rid of Corbyn, and back to square one.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

It would be neigh on impossible, Strangerland.

I agree with you, a referendum could or should be legally binding.

However under Treaty Law, (Lisbon) A50, that is a matter for UK Parliament and ultimately the ECJ.

This renders domestic UK law in essence secondary.

I think, what is most needed is speed to conclusion, the EU 27 are running out of patience. I would in there position, EU member states have serious issues pertaining to debt, and balance of the single currency to deal with.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It would be neigh on impossible, Strangerland.

No it wouldn't. It would be difficult. But you know, so is a country exiting an economic union. Difficult times call for difficult measures.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tired of all this waffling by the Brit politicians.And what's worse, is that they're good leaving or not. But it's the regular folk who will bear the brunt of any changes.The EU should bite the bullet and say no more extensions or give a last and final and if the jokers can't come to a decision,make it for them by kicking them out.Then you'll see things move forward.The UK lawmakers are as inept as the Japanese ones.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The EU should bite the bullet and say no more extensions or give a last and final and if the jokers can't come to a decision,make it for them by kicking them out.

It's in the best interests of the EU to not have a hard Brexit. That will have an economic impact on them as well. Not the same as upon Britain, but an effect nonetheless. Getting annoyed and not providing an extension would be cutting off their noses to spite their face.

Difficult decisions are difficult. Go figure.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 as Britain's politicians argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.

Would the second referendum be binding or non-binding?

Sign: Brexit - what a bloody shambles

Yep, thanks to the Remainer politicians who refuse to carry out the will of the majority of voters in the referendum.

It's looking like the UK is doomed to remain in the EU ( that includes "Brexit" with a deal ) unless they vote in the Brexit Party.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Japanese politicians would not do something this stupid. They say very stupid things all the time, but they are just words. Japanese politics seems to be an exercise in keeping things the way they are. Brexit means the complete opposite, ripping up all your international relationships with no plan about how to proceed.

The big lie all along has been "leave means leave", that is, there is a form of Brexit for which there is consensus. None exists, despite ten years or so of planning by Eurosceptics (see link below). Cameron's government may not have planned a Brexit ready for the Leave victory, but others have been working on it for much longer. None of the plans have got anywhere, and we have been left with "Just get on with it", i.e., no detail. Huge divisions open up as soon as you add detail. This link is by a Daily Telegraph journo, a leaver himself, and was written back in January when May was still PM.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1086899951735574528.html

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yep, thanks to the Remainer politicians who refuse to carry out the will of the majority of voters in the referendum.

Serrano is arguing that the people have spoken once for Brexit, even if it was a non-binding referendum. Kind of like people that point out Hillary won the popular vote.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Serrano is arguing that the people have spoken once for Brexit, even if it was a non-binding referendum. Kind of like people that point out Hillary won the popular vote.

Well played :)

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Yep, thanks to the Remainer politicians who refuse to carry out the will of the majority of voters in the referendum.

Theresa May put a negotiated agreement before Parliament and it was voted down three times. Boris Johnson voted against it twice, and for it, reluctantly, the third time. Your crush Nigel Farage opposed it totally, and opposes Johnson's agreement.

The "will of the majority" that you talk about, is a bare majority of 51.9% to 48.1%. In a show of hands among 100 people, you wouldn't even be able to visually differentiate which was the majority. And that very slender Leave majority voted only for this:

"Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

Under any negotiated agreement in which the UK leaves the EU and is no longer a member, the "leave" terms of the referendum have been satisfied. Theresa May presented Parliament with just such an agreement, under which the UK would have left on schedule, no extension necessary.

You can't blame only Remainers for its failure to pass, because it wasn't only Remainers that voted against it. The hard Brexiters and no-deal Brexiters that you idolize were equally responsible.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Non-binding votes remind me of the Soviet Union, which actually held regular elections, but if the Politburo didn't like the result, the simply overturned the vote of the people.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Non-binding votes remind me of the Soviet Union, which actually held regular elections, but if the Politburo didn't like the result, the simply overturned the vote of the people.

No, they aren’t equivalent. The difference is in expectation. With Russian elections the people were told (or at least the term “election” implies) that their choice was binding. Then corruption is used to override that.

With a non-binding referendum, the people know up front that it’s non-binding, and those who see that may choose to not participate as a result. And there is no corruption if the result is not followed, as there was no reasonable expectation of it being binding in the first place.

Let’s not try to equate corrupt USSR government behaviours with legitimate democratic tools please.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

And there is no corruption if the result is not followed, as there was no reasonable expectation of it being binding in the first place.

Except that the government legalized the result after the vote when it made a law to proceed with Brexit.

People who are interfering with Brexit are interfering the law and the will of the people.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Except that the government legalized the result after the vote when it made a law to proceed with Brexit.

It’s pretty silly to try to equate that to the corruption in Russia you pointed out. Brexit has followed a legal process.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's looking like the UK is doomed to remain in the EU ( that includes "Brexit" with a deal ) unless they vote in the Brexit Party.

The Brexit party has no policies. No serious voter can vote for a party with no policies. The last time Farage talked policy when he was with UKIP he gibbered about bringing back smoking to the pub, making St George’s Day a public holiday and turning the Falklands into a penal colony.

When he gets serious about policies rather than just being an effective spanner in the works, I’ll take a look at what he’s offering.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The Brits that voted for Brexit, but did they vote for a Brexit without a deal or a Brexit with a deal..................... and which one those Brits that did not vote for Brexit would support

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Brits that voted for Brexit, but did they vote for a Brexit without a deal or a Brexit with a deal

They voted for a Brexit, period. The whole strawman about "deal" or "no deal" was made up later by the remainers to muddle the picture. The so-called "deals" that the queen Merkel offered all meant no brexit really.

The whole picture is wrong. If want to leave an abuse relationship, you can not make it dependent on a "deal" with the abuser.

And the fake claims that the sky would fall in case of a no deal brexit are absurd. There is a whole world outside the stagnating EU.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

There is a lot of misunderstanding - sometimes deliberate - about the referendum.

Firstly, it was binding, in every practical sense. The Prime Minister said very clearly that the government would respect the decision of the voters, whatever it was. That is pretty final.

And secondly, everyone knows exactly what people voted for, as it was repeated time after time by the Leave camp. It was to Take Back Control. And that is why what was proposed by Theresa May (a Remainer!) was not Brexit in any meaningful sense.

The British people just want to be completely free and independent. What's wrong with that?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's in the best interests of the EU to not have a hard Brexit. That will have an economic impact on them as well. Not the same as upon Britain, but an effect nonetheless. Getting annoyed and not providing an extension would be cutting off their noses to spite their face.

Sure that the EU don't want a detrimental impact,but the reality in any breakup.whether in business or in a relationship, is that there is some pain.And the party looking to bring the pain should expect some back too,no? Expecting otherwise is utopian,which this world is most certainly not.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They voted for a Brexit, period. The whole strawman about "deal" or "no deal" was made up later by the remainers to muddle the picture. 

Fake news.

The mixed messages from the Brexiteers about what Brexit meant were there for all to see.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Fake news.

It's not news. Don't debase the meaning of this phrase by applying it to something that it isn't.

The mixed messages from the Brexiteers about what Brexit meant were there for all to see.

Fake news. Damn.

Both sides pushed out lots of tosh, remainers as much as leavers. For every red bus there was a chancellor predicting financial ruin.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

drawing cries from opposition lawmakers that Johnson was trying to bully and rush lawmakers into passing the bill.

Three years is a rush? Seems that the bully’s are the ones objecting to the results of the Brexit vote.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Serrano is arguing that the people have spoken once for Brexit, even if it was a non-binding referendum. Kind of like people that point out Hillary won the popular vote.

If the Brexit vote was non-binding I am very curious as to why there is so much chaos going on?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

lostrune2 - The Brits that voted for Brexit, but did they vote for a Brexit without a deal or a Brexit with a deal..................... and which one those Brits that did not vote for Brexit would support

Yes, in a democracy, the people voted to leave. How they left the E.U. was left up to the government. Unfortunately, since that time many of the elected representatives have initiated every ploy possible to thwart the will of the people. Maybe those elected representatives don't approve of a democratic vote? Maybe those elected representatives don't approve of democratic voters? Maybe they are simply afraid that they will lose what power they currently have?

If they wish to clarify what the intention of the voters were, then there should be another referendum ASAP. Solve the problem, don't make it worse.

If there is any question about which elected representatives the voters think should be solving this problem, then there should be another election ASAP. All political parties understand, and fear, that they may lose power/authority after another election.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Three years is a rush?

An absolute number is entirely meaningless.

But rushing anything when you're trying to make a change that will affect you and every one of your descendants for all time should be done properly, not rushed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Firstly, it was binding, in every practical sense. The Prime Minister said very clearly that the government would respect the decision of the voters, whatever it was. That is pretty final.

No it's not. Why would you be so silly to believe a politician? If it was supposed to be binding, it would have been binding. It wasn't binding, and some politician's lies don't change that. Look at what people do, not what they say.

The referendum was a non-binding referendum, no matter which way you cut it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Strangerland - The referendum was a non-binding referendum, no matter which way you cut it.

All of the actions taken after the vote total was released suggest otherwise.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All of the actions taken after the vote total was released suggest otherwise.

No they haven’t. No legislation was tabled to make it retroactively binding. It was non binding before the vote and since.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland - No they haven’t. No legislation was tabled to make it retroactively binding. It was non binding before the vote and since.

That's great news, but how would you explain the need to change the government twice since the vote was taken? Somebody certainly appears to be taking the referendum's result very seriously.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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