Brexit Vote: What Is The Letwin Amendment And Is It Likely To Pass?

19 October 2019, 07:56 | Updated: 19 October 2019, 13:31

Whilst Boris Johnson seeks to get the approval of his new Brexit deal today, Oliver Letwin and his supporters from the opposition parties will also be hoping to get an amendment passed.

The Letwin Amendment was put forward by a Tory minister who had the whip removed in September - Sir Oliver Letwin.

His amendment, in essence, would withhold approval for Boris Johnson's deal until legislation implementing withdrawal from the UK has become law.

LBC's political editor Theo Usherwood said that the amendment could "allow MPs to amend the Withdrawal Agreement later and tell Boris Johnson that they want Brexit to look softer."

It looks likely to pass, with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour and other opposition parties set to back it.

Brexit Vote: What Is The Letwin Amendment And Is It Likely To Pass?
Brexit Vote: What Is The Letwin Amendment And Is It Likely To Pass? Picture: PA

Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Nick Boles are some prominent politicians who have signalled they will back it too.

It does, however, need to be selected by the Speaker.

John Bercow will reveal this morning if he has selected it.

The amendment will be voted on before the main vote.

If the amendment does go through, the government will have to ask the EU for an extension tonight. This would follow the provisions of the Benn Act.

If the amendment passes, the Prime Minister wouldn't be able to put his deal directly to MPs as a binary choice between his deal and a no-deal Brexit.

Letwin considers the amendment to be an "insurance policy" that ensures there is an extension in the case the Brexit deal doesn't go through. It is, he argues, to prevent the UK unintentionally crashing out without a deal.

The Letwin amendment would invite the government to put forward a bill to implement their deal but would allow the opportunity for MPs to amend the bill. This means that they could try and amend it to make it harder or, more likely, softer.

It's even possible that MPs could tweak it to make the deal dependent on a second referendum.