By Lowri Pitcher
For the first time since the Falklands War of 1982 and only the third time since the end of World War II, the House of Commons sat on a Saturday. What was hailed as ‘Super Saturday’ turned out not to be so super after all.
Today (October 19) was expected to be the day which saw Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal be passed or rejected by MPs. However, an amendment, the Letwin amendment, changed the course of the day, and potentially the course of Brexit.
The Letwin amendment essentially requested that the legislation to enact the Brexit deal be passed before MPs approve the deal. Under the recently passed Benn Act, unless a Brexit deal was passed by 11pm today, Johnson must request a Brexit extension until January 31 while the legislation is processed.
The reason this amendment was popular is that many MPs fear that even if they approve this deal, the legislation to enshrine it in law could be derailed, leaving the UK leaving the EU without an official withdrawal agreement on October 31.
At 14:30 MPs voted on the Letwin amendment,
- Ayes: 322
- Noes: 306
- Majority of: 16
In response to yet another government defeat, Boris Johnson responded to the results, claiming: “The opportunity to have a meaningful vote has been passed up as the meaningful vote has no meaning… I continue in the strong belief that the best deal for the UK and Europe is to leave with this new deal on October 31.”
He continued: “I will not negotiate a delay…neither does the law compel me to do so…Further delay will be bad for this country, the EU and our democracy.”
Addressing what will happen next, he said that he’ll reintroduce the Brexit deal early next week and “hope[s] the honourable members…will change their minds and support this deal in overwhelming numbers.”
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn said that he “welcome[s] today’s vote. The Prime Minister must now comply with the law” He also reemphasised the Party’s desire for a second referendum.
As it stands, Johnson must now request an extension from the EU and then is expected to present his deal to the House of Commons to face a vote on Monday.