Boris publishes his Brexit Withdrawal Bill: PM unveils 110-page document just hours before MPs will debate it amid Commons anger that it is being rushed through
- Prime Minister’s massive document was published this evening ahead of debate
- Johnson wants to fast-track the bill through the Commons in just three days
- Jacob Rees-Mogg said debate should be run through all its stages by Thursday
- But the Government faces a raft of opposition amendments to thwart the bill
Boris Johnson has published his 110-page Brexit Withdrawal Bill just hours before MPs will debate it amid Commons anger that it is being rushed through,
The Prime Minister wants to pass his Brexit deal through the Commons in just three days as he attempts to avoid another delay to Britain’s departure from the EU by October 31.
Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) would start on Tuesday with ministers hoping to get it through all its Commons stages by Thursday.
If they are successful it could pave the way for House of Lords to sit over the weekend in time for the Bill to receive its royal assent at the start of next week.
However they are likely to face opposition attempts to amend the legislation including the ‘programme motion’ setting out the Commons timetable for the Bill.
Mr Rees-Mogg warned MPs that if the programme motion was defeated they would not be able to get it through Parliament in time for the UK to leave with a deal on October 31.
‘People who do not vote for the programme motion will not be voting for Brexit on October 31,’ he said.
The Prime Minister wants to pass his Brexit deal through the Commons in just three days as he attempts to avoid another delay to Britain’s departure from the EU by October 31 (pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons in London)
Earlier Commons Speaker John Bercow rejected a bid by ministers for a fresh meaningful vote on Mr Johnson’s agreement struck last week with Brussels.
Mr Bercow ruled the special Commons sitting on Saturday had voted to delay approval until the implementing legislation had been passed and that any further vote would be ‘repetitive and disorderly’ under House rules.
Under the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG), an international treaty – such as the Brexit deal – must be laid before Parliament for at least 21 sitting days before ratification to take place.
However in order for the Government’s timetable to be met, there is a provision in the WAB which ‘disapplies’ the relevant section of the CRAG.
MPs have complained that the short time frame to debate the Prime Minister’s new Brexit deal avoids proper scrutiny.
The WAB runs to 110 pages and is accompanied by 124 pages of explanatory notes.
After the Bill was introduced for a first reading in the Commons on Monday evening, Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie said the Government was ‘ramming through’ the Bill.
He said: ‘We know for example that Commons committee stage of the Treaty of Rome was not three days, or two days, it was 22 days.
‘For the Maastricht Treaty, 23 days in committee stage. The Treaty of Lisbon 11 days. Treaty of Amsterdam five days.
‘Then the Single European Act four days and then the smallest of them all the Treaty of Nice three days at committee, so in total five days of Commons consideration for the Treaty of Nice to be reformed.
Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) would start on Tuesday with ministers hoping to get it through all its Commons stages by Thursday
‘This is an unprecedentedly short period of time to dedicate to a massive and momentous piece of legislation.’
He added: ‘This motion that we are now debating, (is) the first in a series of attempts by the Government to stage what is essentially the ramming through of a piece of legislation, in I regard a disorderly way.’
Earlier, independent MP Ken Clarke said all-night Commons sittings were used when debating the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and much time was given to the original European Communities Bill.
Following a ministerial statement on Brexit, Mr Clarke, who had the Conservative whip removed after he backed attempts to block the UK leaving the EU without a deal, added: ‘They were both debated for weeks on end with many all-night sittings.
‘I think the Maastricht Bill we had at least 20-odd days sitting in order to satisfy the Eurosceptic members of the Conservative Party who wanted full discussion of it.
The Prime Minister (pictured left in the Commons on Saturday) is planning late-night sittings in the Commons and a special weekend session in the Lords as he attempts to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill
‘So can my right honourable friend reassure me that the Government is not simply to try to confine debate by narrowing the time and it is content, if the House wishes, to facilitate as much time as we need to consider it carefully?
‘And I see no reason at all why we should just all rise in the evening so that everybody can go to dinner and not sit on a Friday for the convenience of the House of Lords.
‘If the Government is for some reason insistent on dashing for this completely silly and irrelevant date which it keeps staking its fate on then give some proper time for debate.
‘Two and a bit days of ordinary parliamentary hours is plainly quite insufficient.’