British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons, London during the debate for the European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill: Second Reading. Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s European Union divorce bill faces two votes Tuesday, with lawmakers first being asked to approve it in principle, followed by a vote on the government’s schedule for debate and possible amendments. (House of Commons/via AP)

Johnson says he’ll pull Brexit bill, call election if lawmakers force delay

The showdown comes just nine days before Britain’s scheduled departure date

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was headed for a showdown Tuesday with lawmakers who want to put the brakes on his drive to push his European Union divorce bill through the House of Commons in just three days and take Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31.

Johnson said that if Parliament imposes a longer timetable and “decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer,” he will withdraw the bill and call a vote on holding a snap general election.

“I will in no way allow months more of this,” said Johnson, who took power in July vowing that the U.K. will leave the EU on Oct. 31, come what may. His only hope of doing that is to pass the Brexit-implementing bill through Britain’s fractious Parliament before then.

Johnson’s announcement piles pressure on lawmakers as they consider whether to approve the government’s legislation, which would finally take Britain out of the EU — more than three years after voters opted to leave the bloc.

The bill faces two votes Tuesday, with lawmakers first being asked to approve it in principle, followed by a vote on the government’s schedule for debate and possible amendments.

Johnson said backing the bill would allow lawmakers to “turn the page and allow this Parliament and this country to begin to heal and unite.”

While many analysts expect the bill to be approved, lawmakers may reject the three-day timetable because of concerns it doesn’t provide enough time for scrutiny of the 115-page document, which sets out the terms of Britain’s departure from the 28-nation bloc.

Major bills usually take weeks or months to pass through Parliament, giving time for line-by-line scrutiny by lawmakers.

Green lawmaker Caroline Lucas tweeted that lawmakers “had more time to debate the Wild Animals in Circuses Act (affecting 19 animals) than they will to decide the future of 65 million people. It’s hard to think of anything which better illustrates this Govt’s contempt for people, Parliament & democracy.”

Ominously for the government, some lawmakers who support the Brexit deal said they would vote against the short timetable.

“Unless you are prepared to contemplate more expansive debate, there is not the slightest possibility of considering the deal that has been obtained within the time available,” Ken Clarke, a senior lawmaker recently ousted from Johnson’s Conservative Party group in Parliament, told the Guardian newspaper.

The showdown comes just nine days before Britain’s scheduled departure date. Johnson’s government had sought a “straight up-and-down vote” Monday on the agreement he struck last week with the 27 other EU nations laying out the terms of Britain’s exit.

But the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, refused to allow it because lawmakers voted to delay approving the Brexit deal on Saturday, and parliamentary rules bar the same measure from being considered a second time during a session of Parliament unless something has changed.

Bercow’s ruling plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly familiar territory: acrimonious uncertainty.

Johnson’s Conservatives hold just 288 of the 650 House of Commons seats, so he will need support from opposition and independent lawmakers to pass the bill — if,


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

that is, Parliament approves the timetable on Tuesday.

The bill turns the deal Johnson struck with the EU into law. It sets out the terms of Britain’s departure, including measures to maintain an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. It also enshrines the right of U.K. and EU citizens living in the other’s territory to continue with their lives, and sets out the multi-billion pound (dollar) payments Britain must make to meet its financial obligations to the EU.

It also confirms a transition period lasting until at least the end of 2020 — and possibly 2022 — in which relations will remain frozen as they are now while a permanent new relationship is worked out.

Opposition lawmakers plan to seek amendments that could substantially alter the bill, for example by adding a requirement that the Brexit deal be put to voters in a new referendum, or by requiring the government to extend the transition period until a new trade deal with the EU has been agreed.

The government says such major amendments would wreck its legislation and it will withdraw the bill if the opposition plan succeeds.

With the Brexit deadline looming and British politicians still squabbling over the country’s departure terms, Johnson has been forced to ask the EU for a three-month delay to Britain’s departure date.

He did that, grudgingly, to comply with a law passed by Parliament ordering the government to postpone Brexit rather than risk the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit.

European Council President Donald Tusk said Tuesday that EU leaders “will decide in coming days” whether to grant Britain another extension to the deadline for leaving the bloc, but said their decision depends on developments in London.

Tusk said Tuesday that the decision on prolonging Brexit for three months after Oct. 31. “will very much depend on what the British parliament decides or doesn’t decide.”

READ MORE: No-deal? Intense Brexit debate expected in UK Parliament

___

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.

___

Jill Lawless And Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

COVID-19: PG Community Foundation to disperse community support funds

$197,630 in funding announced by the Prince George Community Foundation

CGL workforce will gradually increase to 650 workers by end of May

The pipeline company provided a project update on May 21.

With wildfire season approaching, here are some tips to be ‘FireSmart’ this year

Q & A with Lindsay King, FireSmart Educator for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read