Brexit Deal Passes But Stalled Again

In quite extraordinary sessions of the House of Commons, PM Boris Johnson made a historical achievement when, after almost nobody believed he could do it, he not only managed to make a mutually agreeable deal with the EU, but also after much debate managed to get a majority (of 30) to support his deal.  This was the first support for the results of the referendum that voted by a majority to leave the EU after 3.5 years. However, immediately after that vote the Commons reversed itself and defeated (by 14) his Bill for the accelerated timetable the Government had proposed to actually debate the contents of the Bill.  One main reason he argued he needed this speedy timetable was to manage to arrange everything before the deadline of Oct 31.  Another reason might be that he wanted to  avoid a long drawn-out debate with multiple amendments that would in effect change the deal and lead to a complete deadlock again.

PM Johnson argued that the vast majority of the Bill (say 95%) is the same as that debated several times before that was introduced by former PM Theresa May.  The main changes are the replacement of the so-called “Irish back-stop” by another arrangement for Northern Ireland.  However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) strongly opposed this since in their eyes it results in a customs border down the Irish Sea between N. Ireland and Great Britain that they cannot accept.   Also, there are some changes to the so-called “Political statement.”  However, these do not seem to warrant weeks of debate and further amendments.

So the result is that the Commons passed the deal and sent it on for a second reading, but refused to accept the government’s timetable for the consideration and debate and so there is another delay in Brexit!  Johnson said he would pause consideration of the Bill and refer to his colleagues in the EU regarding the possibility of an extension, but he wants the UK to leave the EU on Oct 31 in any case.  All this can be put down to politics, by the DUP, the Labour Party (which said it would honor the result of the referendum, but then reversed itself) and some Conservative rebels.  What happens next is again unclear.

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