Politics on Speed
Boris Johnson wants to decide the Brexit in three days. Necessary is a complex law; the resistance in Parliament is great. Can this work?
Will Britain leave the EU on 31 October?
This Tuesday, it will be decided whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can keep his promise so often repeated. And it could be a long day again. The deputies in the lower house discuss the legislative package, the so-called Withdrawal Agreement Bill. This is intended to translate the compromise with the EU into British law.
A vote on the EU deal itself will not take place after yesterday’s veto by Parliament Speaker John Bercow.The schedule is extremely tight: after all, the law includes more than 100 pages. The British government wants to whip the entire package through the lower and upper houses as quickly as possible – in three days. Otherwise, Johnson’s appointment can no longer be sustained. But there is already considerable resistance in Parliament.
How is Tuesday going? The House of Commons, after several hours of debate, will decide in a first vote whether it will, in principle, accept the law. A (slim) majority for it seems relatively safe. If Johnson unexpectedly loses it, he could vote for a new election on November 28 or December 5, hoping to try again later with a larger parliamentary majority. Because the new election is bound to a specific date, no two-thirds majority in the lower house would be necessary; a simple would suffice.
Then immediately follows the government’s request to speed up the legislative process, so that the procedure is already completed on Thursday evening. This process would replace the previously vain attempt by May and Johnson on the deal (meaningful vote). The EU could start ratification. In Britain, the law would still have to be approved by the House of Lords and the Queen. On 1 November, the transitional period would begin by the end of 2020.