Amid the defeat of his new Brexit settlement with the European Union, British Prime Minister faces two key parliamentary votes in London Tuesday that maybe Britain’s last opportunity to exit by the Oct. 31 deadline.
Parliament did not approve Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill last weekend and the prime minister’s push for another vote Monday failed.
First Tuesday, the House of Commons will vote on the principles of how Britain will exit the EU.
It’s expected to pass, in principle, and advance to the House of Lords. Debate will be followed by a vote.
“Let’s go for a deal that can heal this country and allow us to believe in ourselves once again,” Johnson tweeted.
The second vote will determine whether Johnson can push his agreement through the House of Commons by the end of Thursday. If both votes are successful, Britain can still make the Oct. 31 departure deadline. If they’re not, a three-month extension — pushing the departure date back to Jan. 31 — will be all but certain.
Parliament declined to hold a yes-or-no vote on the deal last weekend, mainly because these details have yet to be approved.
Johnson is bound by British law to seek the extension, and his office has said the request has already been made. The prime minister could also decide to abandon the new deal, reached in Belgium last week, altogether.
“Ministers are trying to bounce [lawmakers] into signing off a bill that could cause huge damage to our country,” said Brexit Shadow Secretary Keir Starmer, a leader in the opposition Labor Party. “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.” EU lawmakers would need to approve any deal after it passes the British Parliament.
Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed disappointment Tuesday and said the exit process — which, on his watch, has involved two British prime ministers and several variations of a proposed settlement — has been a “waste” of time and energy.
“I will always regret the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the Union,” he said. “But at least we can look at ourselves in the eye and say that we have done all in our power to make sure that this departure is orderly.”
Juncker will be succeeded by commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen on Nov. 2.