Brexit: Government gives MPs just three days to scrutinise EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill

21 October 2019, 22:16

Politicians will have just three days to debate the bill
Politicians will have just three days to debate the bill. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government has published the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill giving MPs just three days to scrutinise the plans.

After John Bercow rejected Boris Johnson's plans to hold a "meaningful vote" on his Brexit agreement, the Government will attempt to pass key Brexit legislation through Parliament over three days this week, Jacob Rees-Mogg has announced.

The Commons Leader said the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be debated at second reading and committee stage on Tuesday, with further discussion on Wednesday before the conclusion of proceedings on Thursday.

The Bill, which MPs plan to debate on Tuesday, is 110 pages and is accompanied by 124 pages of explanatory notes.

Some politicians have said that the speed of the Government time table means the bill may not be able to receive the proper scrutiny.

A page taken from the governments draft of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
A page taken from the governments draft of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Picture: PA

The Government have said they intend to hold a vote on Thursday.

The Bill includes a clause which would allow the Prime Minister's deal, which he agreed with EU leaders, to be approved in time for the Halloween Brexit deadline.

French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker had applied pressure on MPs with hints that Mr Johnson's deal is the last and that any further delay may not be granted.

But Donald Tusk reassured MPs that an extension is still on the table as he consults EU leaders over the requested delay.

"It is obvious that the result of these consultations will very much depend on what the British Parliament decides, or doesn't decide," he said in a speech at the council on Tuesday.

"We should be ready for every scenario. But one thing must be clear: as I said to Prime Minister Johnson on Saturday, a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision."

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it was "outrageous" that MPs would not have a chance to properly scrutinise the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

"This is a Bill to implement Boris Johnson's deeply flawed plan for Brexit," he said.

"It is outrageous to deny Parliament the chance to scrutinise this incredibly important legislation properly. Ministers are trying to bounce MPs into signing off a Bill that could cause huge damage to our country. We can't trust this Prime Minister.

"The truth is Boris Johnson knows that the more time people have to read the small print of his deal, the more it will be exposed for the risks it represents to our economy and communities across the country."