Yesterday, House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, invoked a centuries-old convention to deny the PM his wish to organise a straightforward yes/no vote on the new deal.
Bercow’s ruling was based on the premise that the PM’s so-called “meaningful vote” could not be re-considered as Parliament had “essentially” debated the same motion in its extraordinary sitting on Saturday, Presstv Reported.
Today, MPs will begin a three-day Brexit showdown – including two late-night sittings – which is set to become a titanic battle of wills between the government and its opponents.
As part of his Brexit strategy, the PM is trying to project an image of defender of the people against a recalcitrant Parliament.
“I hope parliament today votes to take back control for itself and the British people and the country can start to focus on the cost of living, the NHS, and conserving our environment”, Johnson asserted.
The PM added that: “The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I. Let’s get Brexit done on October 31 and move on”.
Johnson’s final push to get Brexit over the line by October 31 follows yesterday’s publication of the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
The 110-page document creates the legal framework for Johnson’s new Brexit deal, which he agreed with European Union (EU) leaders last week.
The most important aspect of the document is the omission of the Irish border backstop, a highly contentious proposed measure to prevent the re-emergence of a “hard” border between the Republic of Ireland and the British-controlled six counties of the north, Northern Ireland.
The Irish border backstop elicited strong opposition from across the political spectrum and was widely seen as the main obstacle to a Brexit breakthrough.
The new plan draws a customs border in the Irish Sea and imposes duty tax on goods destined for the Republic of Ireland.
More broadly, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) envisages the UK’s departure from the EU customs union, thereby freeing the British government to strike new trade deals with countries around the world.
At present, opposition is less focused on the contents of the WAB than on the short time frame required to review and ratify the bill in both houses of Parliament.
Underscoring this opposition, shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said the Labour party is “outraged” by the government’s attempt to ratify the bill in such a short time.
“In order for politicians to do their job properly, we do need to have time”, Thornberry said.
Meanwhile, across the English Channel, there are growing signs that EU leaders’ patience with Britain is fast running out.
European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has just said that Brexit has been a “waste of time and energy”.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, Juncker said it “pained” him to have spent “so much” of his time in the past three years on Brexit.