London, Oct 23 (PTI)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday cleared the first parliamentary hurdle for his Brexit Bill, with MPs backing it 329 votes to 299.It effectively means his Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU can become law, but they are yet to agree to push it through the Commons in three days.
If MPs reject the timetable and the EU offers an extension to the Brexit deadline, Johnson has threatened to pull the bill and seek a general election instead of delaying Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline.
After publishing the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, or the so-called EU divorce bill, on Monday night, Johnson opened it up for debate by MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday with plans to hold a vote on a sped-up timetable for its passage by the end of the week.
While Opposition MPs accused him of trying to dash through a 110-page legislation without proper scrutiny, Johnson threatened to remove the Bill entirely if his timetable for its passage is rejected and revert to demanding a General Election instead. “I will in no way allow months more of this.
If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead.Decides to delay everything until January, or possibly longer, in no circumstances then [can] the government continue with this,” Johnson told MPs.”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 and I will argue at that election, let’s get Brexit done,” he declared.
Johnson had agreed what he termed as a “great new deal” with the EU last week, which gets rid of the controversial Irish backstop seen as a threat by Brexiteers.They had repeatedly voted it down as part of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal on the grounds that it could keep the UK tied to EU rules long after Brexit.
Under the reviewed deal negotiated by Johnson, Northern Ireland would be subject to limited border checks via an invisible border in the Irish sea with neighbouring EU member-country Ireland.This proved unpalatable to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which withdrew its support to Johnson’s minority Conservative Party government in a crunch vote over the weekend.
This has meant Johnson has struggled to get the numbers required for his agreement to cross the parliamentary threshold.
With the new Withdrawal Bill set for its crucial second reading vote later on Tuesday evening, the UK PM will be hoping for enough numbers to defect from the Opposition benches to cross the finish line.However, his biggest challenge will come in the form of a second Commons vote soon after, termed the programme motion.