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Boris Johnson loses crucial Commons vote on his Brexit deal, as EU to consider a third extension

Donald Tusk said that he would recommend that the EU’s 27 leaders accept the UK request for an extension until 31 January 2020.

Image: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON HAS just lost a crucial Commons vote on legislation to implement his revised Brexit deal – leading to the EU to consider the UK’s request for a three-month extension to the Brexit timeline. 

Tonight, MPs voted to allow Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation to proceed after speaker John Bercow yesterday disallowed a second straight yes or no vote on the revised deal agreed last week with the European Union.

That vote had been expected to go the government’s way (the final vote was 329 to 299), but Johnson has just lost a second one on his accelerated timetable to rush the legislation through – which forces another request for an extension to be considered.

In the hour following the vote, European Council President Donald Tusk said that as Johnson had lost his vote and decided to “pause” the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, that he would recommend that the EU27 accept the UK’s request for a third extension until the 31 January 2020.

That request was enshrined in the Benn legislation that MPs voted for in early September, and was the subject of controversy over the weekend after Johnson sent three letters to comply with it, but didn’t sign the letter requesting an extension. 

What was actually voted on?

Members had been asked to back the Prime Minister’s three-day timetable to hurry the legislation through the British parliament by the end of the week.

The 110-page piece of legislation translates the 585-page draft EU-UK Brexit deal into British law. Critics had argued that this wouldn’t be enough time for the legislation to be scrutinised properly.

The final tally was 308 in favour of the government’s three-day timetable versus 322 against. The DUP were among MPs that voted against Johnson’s motion.

Statements on what’s next

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House “has refused to be bounced” into scrutinising Johnson’s Brexit legislation in just two days “with barely any notice”. 

The Prime Minister is an author of his own misfortune.

Corbyn told Johnson that a “sensible” timeframe should be put forward that the House would find acceptable.

In the wake of the vote, Johnson welcomed the result of the first vote in support of the legislation to implement his deal.

He said the country now faced further uncertainty and that the government must take “the only responsible course” and accelerate preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson said that he was “disappointed” that the House had voted for a delay, and said that “the EU must now make up their mind” in relation to the submitted request for an extension to the Brexit timeline.

Until he gets a response from EU leaders, Johnson told the House of Commons that “we will pause this legislation”. Ahead of the vote, Johnson had pledged to pull his Brexit legislation and call for a general election. 

“One way or another we will leave with this deal,” Johnson told MPs.

Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg later told MPs that instead of the proposed timetable that the House of Commons just voted down: “Tomorrow there will be a continuation of the debate on the Queen’s Speech”, on Thursday the debate on the Queen’s Speech will conclude, and on Friday the House of Commons will not sit, as per usual.

In a statement, a European Commission spokesperson said that it “takes note of tonight’s result and expects the UK government to inform us about the next steps. The European Council President is consulting leaders on the UK’s request for an extension until 31 January 2020.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also tweeted his reaction to the vote: “It’s welcome that the House of Commons voted by a clear majority in favour of legislation needed to enact Withdrawal Agreement.

“We will now await further developments from London and Brussels about next steps including timetable for the legislation and the need for an extension.”

At 9.15pm, Tusk tweeted that he would recommend that an extension be granted. 

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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Daragh Brophy

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