Boris Johnson to pause Brexit Withdrawal Agreement legislation

22 October 2019, 19:48

Boris Johnson announced his plans to pause the legislation in the Commons
Boris Johnson announced his plans to pause the legislation in the Commons. Picture: Parliament TV
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has said the Government will "pause" the Withdrawal Agreement Bill until the EU reaches a decision on a Brexit extension.

The Prime Minister suffered a defeat after MPs rejected his plans for a three-day timetable during which MPs would be able to debate his Brexit Withdrawal Agreement deal in the Commons.

He told MPs: "I will speak to EU member states about their intentions," adding: "Until they have reached a decision we will pause this legislation."

He added: "Let me be clear. Our policy remains that we should not delay, that we should leave the EU on October 31 and that is what I will say to the EU and I will report back to the House.

"And one way or another we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this House has just given its assent.

"And I thank members across the House for that hard-won agreement."

The Prime Minister added: "And I pay particular tribute to those members of the House who were sceptical and who had difficulties and doubts and who decided to place the national interest ahead of any other consideration.

"I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK would be in a position to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal.

"And we now face further uncertainty and the EU must make up their minds over how to answer Parliament's request for a delay and the first consequence Mr Speaker is that the Government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome."

The tight schedule angered had angered many politicians who said they would not have enough time to scrutinise the lengthy Bill, which was more than 100 pages long. The Government lost by 14 votes.

Earlier the Prime Minister told MPs if they failed to back the schedule - he'd withdraw the bill and seek a General Election.

MPs had previously voted to allow the deal to pass to the next stage in the Commons by a majority of 30.

The Prime Minister addresses the house
The Prime Minister addresses the house. Picture: Parliament TV

Speaking after Mr Johnson's plans were defeated, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday Parliament rejected the Prime Minister’s deal, but on Tuesday the House "refused to be bounced into debating a hugely significantly piece of legislation in just two days with barely any notice or an analysis of the economic impact of this bill."

Mr Corbyn said: “The Prime Minister is the author of his own misfortune.

“So I make this offer to him tonight: work with all of us to agree a reasonable timetable, and I suspect this House will vote to debate, scrutinise – and I hope amend – the detail of this Bill.

“That would be the sensible way forward, and that’s the offer I make on behalf of the opposition tonight.”

Responding to votes in the House of Commons tonight, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said: "This is not a done deal, and I won't stop fighting for our place in the European Union. Liberal Democrat MPs will always fight to keep the best deal we have as members of the European Union.

"Boris Johnson tried to ram his Brexit deal through Parliament tonight, because he knows it's a bad deal.

“But he was thrown a lifeline by Labour MPs who voted for his deal, despite all the damage it will do to our economy, our NHS and our environment.

"Now Parliament has rejected his timetable, it is clear that the Prime Minister needs to get an extension so that we can have a People's Vote and offer people the chance to remain in the European Union."