One of the biggest parliamentary weeks in decades could determine the fate of Brexit. Here Political Editor JASON GROVES looks at what might happen.
Can Boris Johnson still salvage his deal?
Yes. Mr Johnson recalled Parliament to try to force MPs to make a decision on his Brexit deal.
His efforts were scuppered when MPs voted instead to force him to seek another delay by blocking efforts to hold a meaningful vote on Saturday.
He will make another attempt to hold the vote today – which is likely to fail, before tabling the full Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), the legislation to cement the deal into law, which has more chance of being approved by MPs.
He will seek to do this in time to leave the EU as planned on October 31, just 10 days time, despite sending a letter to the EU asking for another Brexit delay.
Westminster is bracing for ‘Hell Week’ as the PM tries to force the package through Parliament, with threats of all-night sittings.
He did not sign that letter, has he broken the law?
No. On Saturday night Mr Johnson reluctantly complied with the law requiring him to send a letter to the EU asking for a three-month delay.
But he did not sign it and sent two other letters making it clear he did not want another extension.
Legal action against him for trying to ‘frustrate’ the law is likely. But the EU has said it considers Mr Johnson to have requested an extension, which it will now consider.
Lord Pannick QC, who represented campaigners against the PM in the Supreme Court, said the Prime Minister ‘just about’ acted lawfully in asking the EU for a Brexit delay.
The peer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think the Prime Minister is on the right side of the law on this occasion.
‘The Benn Act required him to send a letter to the president of the European Council seeking an extension and that’s what he’s done. The Act doesn’t require that he’s signed the letter.
‘My view is that he’s on the right side of the law – just about – on this occasion.’
So what is his next move?
The Prime Minister is expected to make a second attempt to hold a ‘Meaningful Vote’ tonight. Passing such a vote is required by law before Britain can leave the EU.
There are fears it could be blocked by John Bercow under Commons conventions that state the same motion cannot be debated twice.
Some Remainers fear if the vote passes, the PM could withdraw the letter to the EU requesting a delay. Such a move is likely to be frowned on by the courts.
One of the biggest parliamentary weeks in decades could determine the fate of Brexit. Political Editor JASON GROVES looks at what might happen
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak today denied that bringing the Brexit deal back for a vote is a bid to portray as Parliament being obstructive.
‘I very much hope’ that Commons Speaker John Bercow allows for the deal to be voted on on Monday, he told the BBC.
‘What the Oliver Letwin amendment did is mean that Parliament hasn’t given its explicit positive support for the deal.
‘It was an observation on the deal happening and I think what people need is a substantive vote.’
Asked if the only real purpose is to portray a Parliament being obstructive, he replied: ‘It’s rather the opposite, actually. It’s giving Parliament the opportunity to more positively affirm its support for this deal, which is something that needs to happen.’
Has the Prime Minister got enough MPs to pass the deal?
Until a vote is held it is impossible to be sure. The majority of the 28 Tory ‘Spartans’ who rejected Theresa May’s deal have come on board, but a hardcore of half a dozen have yet to declare.
A significant number of Labour MPs have also backed the deal, with more expected to follow. Mr Johnson’s former allies in the DUP are implacably opposed.
But many of the 21 MPs who lost the Tory whip last month after voting to block a No Deal Brexit have suggested they will fall into line in a vote on the actual deal – including Sir Oliver.
This is despite 10 of them voting for the former Cabinet minister’s wrecking amendment on Saturday.
It will be very tight.
Can Johnson still salvage his deal? Yes
What if the vote fails?
Downing Street has indicated the PM will press ahead with legislation tomorrow to pass his new deal into law via the WAB.
In theory, the Government could then repeal the need for a ‘Meaningful Vote’, by overturning an amendment introduced by ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve earlier this year.
But it is high risk because if the legislation is voted down then it cannot be brought back without starting a new session of Parliament.
It is also open to attempts to amend it with various add-ons.
Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition parties could yet join forces to wreck the process, with ‘guerrilla warfare’ plots to trigger votes on a second referendum and the whole UK staying in the EU customs union.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth denied Labour is trying to ‘wreck’ the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
He accused the Government of taking an ‘utterly irresponsible approach’ by asking MPs to vote on legislation they are yet to see.
He told Today: ‘We are not attempting to wreck it, we are attempting to safeguard the British economy, safeguard jobs and safeguard public services.
‘That is our responsible approach as an opposition.
‘We believe that the responsible way in which to leave the European Union is in a customs union-arrangement and that in turn should be put to the British people so they can have a say on this.’
Trade Secretary Liz Truss today warned that undermining the painstakingly-assembled deal with Brussels would put the country ‘back to square one’.
Can Johnson win in time for October 31?
The PM has told EU leaders that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which ratifies the deal, could be passed in as little as six days.
But opponents will try to amend the timetable tomorrow to delay final sign off until well after October 31 in the hope this persuades the EU to grant another delay.
The Prime Minister will publish the WAB today under the assumption that the Commons starts voting on it tomorrow.
The premier’s chances of getting the implementation law through in time for the UK to leave the EU by his ‘do or die’ date of October 31 are likely to hang on whether he can get support for a ‘programme motion’ – which will dictate a tight schedule for the stages in Parliament.
Usually it takes weeks for pieces of legislation to go through but ministers are desperate to get the deal into law ahead of a planned EU summit next Monday on whether to have another Brexit delay.
Mr Johnson 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.
Could MPs force a second referendum?
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it was ‘inevitable’ that Labour and others would try to force a vote this week to require the Government to call a referendum on the deal.
The DUP has indicated it could now back a new referendum.
But two dozen Labour MPs oppose the idea, meaning a vote would be tight.
No 10 has said it will not hold a second referendum. If so, the stand-off could only be resolved in an election.
If the PM’s deal is voted down could No Deal still happen?
If it lost the WAB vote the Government would focus on preparing for a No Deal Brexit on October 31.
Remainers hope the EU leaders would act to prevent No Deal by offering a delay of at least three months. Mr Johnson would then push hard to force an election.
Several EU leaders, including Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar, are frustrated.
The French President has even hinted he could veto another extension.
If this happened, and MPs had rejected the PM’s deal, then the UK would leave without a deal on October 31.