Britain should not be granted any further Brexit delays and leave on October 31, France’s Emmanuel Macron declared today.
He insisted that the UK’s withdrawal on Halloween ‘should be respected’ now that a deal has been agreed with the EU.
His blunt comments to reporters at the European Council summit will boost Boris Johnson
ahead of a vote on the agreement in Westminster on Saturday.
The Prime Minister has sought to frame the meaningful vote as a ‘my deal or no deal’ moment for MPs in an attempt to bounce opposition politicians opposed to crashing out into supporting him.
But it appears to put him on a collision path with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is reported to have said another Brexit delay is ‘unavoidable’ if MPs vote down Mr Johnson’s agreement.
Mr Macron said: ‘I think the October 31 date should be respected.
‘I don’t think that new deadlines should be given. We need to end these negotiations and get on negotiating the future relationship.’
And Irish premier Leo Varadkar warned MPs that an extension might not be easy to obtain.
‘But bear in mind that request would have to be agreed unanimously by all 27 leaders, so I don’t think MPs voting tomorrow should make the assumption there would be unanimity for an extension,’ he said.
‘But our point of view has always been that we would be open to it, but it would be a mistake to assume that it’s a guarantee, given that it requires unanimity by all 27 member states.’
Mr Macron insisted that the UK’s withdrawal on Halloween ‘should be respected’ now that a deal has been agreed with the EU
It appears to put him on a collision path with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is reported to have said another Brexit delay is ‘unavoidable’ if MPs vote down Mr Johnson’s agreement
In signs of discord at the heart of Europe Mrs Merkel dropped a Brexit bombshell on Westminster today, suggesting EU leaders would delay the UK’s departure again if MPs fail to pass Boris Johnson’s deal.
Her intervention came hours after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to rule out any more delays past October 31.
In remarks that offer a lifeline to Remainers ahead of Saturday’s crunch vote in the Commons, the German Chancellor is said to have made the remarks at the European Council in Brussels.
It would mean they could oppose the deal without risking a No Deal Brexit on October 31.
Her suggestion, reported by the Guardian, came amid confusion over whether the UK would be kept in the EU into November if Mr Johnson failed to win over Tory rebels and Labour Leave supporters in large enough numbers on Super Saturday.
While the summit significantly avoided pointing to any delay, it also fell short of categorically ruling one out if Mr Johnson loses his Commons vote.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had told reporters there will be no ‘prolongation’. Asked if he believed Parliament would approve the deal, he said: ‘I hope it will, I’m convinced it will. It has to.
‘Anyway there will be no prolongation. We have concluded a deal and so there is not an argument for further delay – it has to be done now.’
But European Council president Donald Tusk said any request for a delay would be considered if it is made.
With no chance of an extension, anti-No Deal MPs would face huge pressure to give their support to Mr Johnson’s agreement.
The final decision on whether an extension would be offered ultimately rests with the EU heads of state.
The German Chancellor (left, with Emmanuel Macron and Xavier Bettel) is said to have made the remarks at the European Council in Belgium last night
While the summit significantly avoided pointing to any delay, it also fell short of categorically ruling one out if Mr Johnson loses his Commons vote
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said last night that ‘if there is a request for an extension I will consult member states to see how to react’.
But Mr Juncker’s comments suggest that the EU does view Saturday’s vote as the last chance saloon for an orderly Brexit.
Should Mr Johnson be defeated in the Commons he will then have to decide what to do next: Try to renegotiate an improved version of the deal or switch to calling for a No Deal Brexit.
If he does the latter, believing that the EU will not budge any further, then he will likely need to force an early election to deliver it.
Boris Johnson is entering the most crucial 24 hours of his premiership as he attempts to get his Brexit deal over the line with the help of Labour rebels.
The Prime Minister is said to have begun attempts to entice Jeremy Corbyn’s backbenchers from Leave areas in the North and Midlands to side with him and get the UK out of the EU.
He is said to have suggested measures to protect workers’ rights in a bid to placate opposition MPs and get them on his side.
But even with Labour rebellion he faces an uphill task in Saturday’s historic Commons vote, with his supposed allies the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) confirming they will line up alongside Mr Corbyn to oppose it.
The hardline Northern Irish loyalists are furious as what they see as Mr Johnson’s sell-out of the province in the deal struck in Brussels yesterday.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson told Italian paper La Repubblica the party would not abstain – which would have helped the Government – but would stand ‘solid as the Rock of Gibraltar’ against it.
The DUP Brexit spokesman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I can give you absolute assurance we will not be voting for this deal when it comes before the Commons tomorrow.’
Reports suggest that the DUP believes as many as 15 members of the Tory European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers will join it in voting against the deal, despite being threatened with the loss of the party whip.
And Mr Johnson faces another blow this morning when an influential collective of Tory eurosceptics urged MPs to vote the deal down.
The Thatcherite Bruges Group, which includes MPs John Redwood, Norman Tebbit and Lord Lamont, revealed this morning that it opposes Mr Johnson’s deal.
In a joint statement with the Bow Group and Fishing for Leave, its chairman Barry Legg said: ‘We urge members of Parliament who wish to honour the result of the Referendum to reject this defective agreement if it is put before them.’
But one Tory moderate, who is backing the deal despite misgivings, urged ‘Spartans’ to give up on their ‘wet dream’ of forcing No Deal.
‘The ‘no extension ‘ from Juncker is a two-edged sword: for Redwood, Chope and Paterson it means if the PM is defeated tomorrow we leave with no Deal which is their wet dream moment,’ they told MailOnline. ‘Hopefully more Labour people will get it and therefore vote for it. It will be tight but doable – just.’
Will MPs support Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan? And what will happen if Remainer rebels succeed in hijacking the PM’s deal? All the key questions answered ahead of ‘Super Saturday’
Boris Johnson is locked in a frantic race against time as he tries to persuade a majority of MPs to back his Brexit deal at a crunch vote in the House of Commons tomorrow.
The Prime Minister has less than 24 hours to drum up support for the deal he unexpectedly struck with the EU yesterday.
If MPs vote for the deal the UK will be on course for an orderly departure from the bloc on October 31.
But if they vote against it or back a Remainer amendment which would scupper the PM’s plan the UK’s Brexit fate will be plunged into uncertainty.
Here is a run down of how ‘Super Saturday’ could play out and the events that could follow in the run up to the Halloween Brexit deadline.
What is happening on Saturday?
Mr Johnson will formally present his divorce accord to the Commons and ask MPs to vote for it.
The day will start with the PM setting out the terms of the agreement in a statement to the House which is due to begin shortly after 9.30am.
Following a lengthy debate MPs will then vote on the deal – and any amendments which are selected by Commons Speaker John Bercow – at approximately 2.30pm.
Boris Johnson, pictured in Brussels yesterday, will present his Brexit deal to the House of Commons tomorrow
What amendments have been tabled and what would they do?
At the moment there are three amendments which have been officially put forward by MPs and which could be put to a vote.
One from an SNP MP would force the government to revoke Article 50 while another from the SNP would reject the PM’s deal and demand a Brexit delay until January 31 in order to make time for an election.
If either of those are selected they are very unlikely to secure the backing of a majority of MPs.
But the third amendment has a much better chance of passing and would represent a major headache for the government.
What is the third amendment?
A cross-party group of MPs led by former Tory Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour MP Hilary Benn have put forward a proposal which, if agreed, would withhold approval for the PM’s deal until the government has passed all the legislation needed to deliver an orderly Brexit.
In simple terms the PM’s deal would still be alive but it would not have been formally backed by MPs.
That would mean Mr Johnson would still have to comply with the Benn Act and ask the EU for an extension.
The anti-No Deal law states that an extension must be asked for unless a deal has been agreed by MPs by close of play tomorrow.
The amendment is therefore designed to act as a further protection against a No Deal divorce from the EU.
The PM would still be able to move forward with his deal but the UK would almost certainly not leave the EU on October 31.
The cross-party nature of the amendment – and the expected backing of Labour – means that if it is selected by Mr Bercow and put to a vote it has a good chance of being agreed.
What will the government do if the Letwin amendment is passed by MPs?
Mr Johnson will have two options. He could choose to play ball with the amendment and bring forward all the laws needed to make Brexit happen.
But this would be risky because the PM would not know if there was a majority of MPs in favour of his deal which means it could all fall apart further down the line.
It would also force him to ask the EU to delay Brexit – something he does not want to do.
The second option would be for the premier to disregard the amendment, accuse MPs of hijacking the Brexit process and then demand a general election.
Will there be a second referendum amendment?
Currently it is unclear whether pro-EU MPs will pull the trigger on trying to force a second referendum amid concerns they may not have the numbers to win.
It is thought that such an amendment would grant approval to the PM’s deal but only if it was then put back to the people.
If the amendment is tabled and selected it will have the potential to dramatically alter the Brexit process.
What happens if MPs vote in favour of a second referendum?
If a second referendum amendment is agreed by the Commons tomorrow it would trigger a volatile chain of events that are hard to predict.
The first question for the PM in the event such an amendment is agreed is whether he would proceed to push a vote on his deal.
Votes on amendments always take place before the vote on the substantive motion which means the PM will have the ability to pull the division on his deal if he has just been defeated on holding a second referendum.
Sir Oliver Letwin, pictured in the House of Commons yesterday, has tabled an amendment which would bolster anti-No Deal protections
Sir Oliver’s amendment has the support of Hilary Benn, pictured in London on October 8, as well as a large number of cross-party MPs
The PM is adamant that he does not want a second referendum and if he was to pull the vote on his deal and then refuse to present it to the Commons for a second time he would likely pivot to try to force a general election.
The Benn Act states that the PM must ask the EU for a Brexit delay if no agreement has been backed by MPs by close of play tomorrow.
Assuming he then complied with the Act and the EU granted a delay the PM would then seemingly have cleared a path to an election because opposition leaders have said they would agree a snap poll if a No Deal split has been ruled out.
What happens if MPs vote in favour of a second referendum and the PM pushes ahead with a vote on his deal?
Given the PM’s opposition to a second referendum it is unlikely he would proceed with a vote on the deal itself if MPs pass an amendment in favour of a ‘People’s Vote’.
But if he did it is likely the deal would be agreed by MPs – the referendum provision would allow many critics to vote for the deal in the belief that it would be rejected by the country when pitched against Remain at a national ballot.
If Mr Johnson was willing to go along with the second referendum plan – again, this is extremely unlikely – he would then have to ask the EU for a delay to make time for the vote to be held, potentially in the first half of next year.
If Mr Johnson allowed the vote to go ahead and the deal plus a referendum was agreed to but he then refused to put in place the necessary measures to hold that ballot it would be up to rebel MPs to take control of the Commons to push through the necessary legislation to make a ‘People’s Vote’ happen.
If they failed there would then almost certainly be a general election because it would literally be the only option left.
What happens if MPs vote in favour of a second referendum but then reject the PM’s deal?
This feels incredibly unlikely because if an amendment is put forward to hold a public vote on the PM’s deal and it was passed by MPs there is no reason to think that majority would disappear on the subsequent vote on the amended deal.
But if for some weird reason it happened it would trigger the same outcomes as if there is no second referendum amendment and MPs simply reject the PM’s deal.
John Bercow, the Commons Speaker pictured at an event in London on Wednesday, will play a key role on ‘Super Saturday’ because he will be in charge of selecting which amendments are voted on
What happens if MPs reject the PM’s Brexit deal?
In the event that MPs vote down the PM’s new accord there are a variety of different ways forward which Mr Johnson could choose from.
Option one: If the deal was narrowly defeated and Mr Johnson believed there was a path to victory he could ask the EU for a delay – he will be legally required to do so under the Benn Act – and then either hold a second vote next week or ask Brussels to tweak the deal before a second vote.
Should the EU agree to make changes the PM could ask MPs to vote again and if it then passed the UK would be on course to leave the EU with an agreement but probably after the October 31 deadline.
If the EU refused to budge or if MPs stuck to their guns then the UK would be on course to quit the bloc without an agreement.
Option two: The PM could refuse to ask for a Brexit delay and opt to resign instead. A government official would then likely ask the EU for an extension in order to comply with the Benn Act.
Assuming the EU granted an extension a general election would then follow.
Option three: The PM could ask the EU to delay the UK’s departure from the bloc in order to trigger an election in a final attempt to break the Brexit stalemate.
Brussels has suggested it would grant an extension for an election and if everything went to plan there would then be a snap poll held before the end of 2019.
Option four: The PM could ask for the EU to grant a delay and the bloc could refuse on the grounds that is has had enough of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
That would prompt the PM to either put his deal to a second vote in the Commons or to pivot to a No Deal divorce.
If the PM won the second vote on his deal an orderly divorce would beckon. If he lost the UK would be on course to leave the EU without an agreement.
What happens if MPs vote in favour of the PM’s deal?
This would be the most straight forward option from a ‘what happens next’ perspective.
The final vote on the deal is expected to be very tight and nobody knows for certain which way it will go.
But if the deal were to be agreed by the Commons the government could then bring forward the laws needed to enact the UK’s departure from the EU.
The accord would then be put to the European Parliament to be ratified. Assuming MEPs did not block the deal the UK would then leave the EU with an accord on October 31.