News ID: 259955
Published: 0226 GMT October 09, 2019

UK plans rare weekend sitting of Parliament, Brexit deal or no deal

UK plans rare weekend sitting of Parliament, Brexit deal or no deal
Flags flutter outside the Houses of Parliament, ahead of a Brexit vote, in London, Britain, on March 13, 2019.

Britain’s government plans to hold a special sitting of Parliament on Oct. 19, whether or not Prime Minister Boris Johnson secures a Brexit deal with the European Union, a government source said on Wednesday.

Parliament has passed a law to force Johnson to seek a Brexit delay if he fails to negotiate a new deal with the EU at a summit on Oct. 17-18. Johnson has said he will abide by the law but has also stood firm in his pledge to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 no matter what, Reuters reported.

The source said it was likely that Parliament would sit on Saturday, Oct. 19, either way, depending on the usual procedures to approve an extra day of sitting. If no deal has been reached, the day could be used to hold a series of votes on possible ways forward.

The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that the European Union is ready to make a “major concession” on a Brexit deal by offering a mechanism for the Northern Irish assembly to leave a new so-called backstop after a number of years.

Talks with the EU to reach an agreement on Britain’s departure have hit an impasse over the backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return to a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland if a future trade deal falls short of keeping the border open.

Johnson says he wants to remove what he calls the “undemocratic backstop” and has proposed replacing it by suggesting that Northern Ireland stay under EU regulations, customs checks should be made away from the border, and that Northern Ireland’s assembly, Stormont, would have the right to vote on the arrangements.

But Brussels fears handing Northern Ireland “consent” would give Johnson’s allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, a veto.

The new idea, as reported by The Times, would be a modified version of the consent principle.


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