Boris Johnson finally faces major Commons showdown with MPs over Brexit plans

Boris Johnson finally faces a major Commons showdown with MPs tomorrow night over his Brexit plans.

But the Prime Minister’s attempts to deliver Brexit “do or die” by October 31 are in danger of coming unstuck.

His plan to rush legislation through the Commons so the UK can leave the EU before Halloween has worried MPs.

They want to make sure that the 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill [WAB] receives proper scrutiny before it enters the statute book.

Tonight Labour and other MPs were considering amending – or even voting down – the timetable of the bill to give them more time.

One senior MP told the Mirror: “Boris has said he’d rather than die in a ditch than leave after October 31.

“But his arbitrary deadline shouldn’t prevent us from doing our job”.

A final decision on whether to delay Brexit, and how long for, is in the hands of the EU which wants to see what happens here first.

But with just 10 days until the UK is due to leave the EU, the Government’s Brexit policy was once again in disarray.

The PM’s bid to hold a ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal today was crushed after Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled it out of order.

He said MPs had already answered the question in a special Saturday sitting when they demanded he ask the EU for an extension instead.

The Government’s timetable to get the bill through the Commons – the ‘programme motion’ – has made many MPs deeply uneasy.

They want to ram through the legislation in just three days, with MPs sitting until midnight, before it goes to the Lords on Friday.

Mr Johnson wants the bill to become law next Wednesday – one day before his deadline – rather than accept a short technical extension.

But Tory MPs fear that ramming through the WAB just so the PM doesn’t break his “do or die” pledge could be counter-productive.

They are nervous Labour MPs who he needs to win over may be put off by the rushed timetable – and that peers could demand more time.

The EU is prepared to delay Brexit until February if the PM is unable to get his deal past MPs this week.

Mr Johnson tonight pressed on with introducing the WAB – leaving MPs with virtually no time to table amendments.

Both Downing Street and senior Labour insiders believe the bill will pass its crucial second reading tomorrow night, although it may be close.

But some of the MPs who will back it have already said they won’t vote for the whole deal as it stands but seek to amend it instead.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that Parliament had “one last chance” to find a compromise that could break the impasse.

Labour is planning to back an amendment calling for Britain to stay in a customs union with the EU.

It is expected to be on a knife-edge after an indicative vote in April was lost by just three, although 89 MPs abstained.

Labour MPs are worried that leaving the EU customs union could result in driving down workers’ rights and standards.

But the amendment would cause big problems for the PM who wants the UK to strike its own trade deals.

If it is backed by the SNP and the DUP – which has left open the possibility of backing it – it could pass.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has suggested that Labour would back amendments for a “confirmatory vote” on any Brexit deal, although it does not currently have the numbers.


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