Despite Parliament’s September prorogation being declared null and void by the UK Supreme Court on 24 September, not much has happened in Parliament to move Brexit any closer to a conclusion. Parliament will be prorogued again at the close of Tuesday, 8 October with a Queen’s Speech still planned for Monday, 14 October (at which the Government’s parliamentary agenda will be set out). How any Government will pass legislation with nowhere near a bare majority (even with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party) is another question. In our view, and in light of the current mood in parliament, this is unlikely if not impossible.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday (see here for the speech in full), to inspire his base and to formally announce a new proposal to the EU27 to replace the Northern Ireland backstop, which previously derailed Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. This new proposal has been presented as a ‘take it or leave it’ deal to the EU27 and early indications are that they will leave it. Even if it is agreed, the Parliamentary arithmetic does not look promising to get a revised deal passed.
Boris Johnson’s letter to the European Commission setting out his proposal can be found here and the Government’s explanatory notes can be found here. We are told that there is a more detailed proposal that has been submitted to the EU27, but this has not yet been made public.
The European Council summit will be held in just over two weeks’ time on 17 and 18 October and expectations remain low as to whether there will be any constructive Brexit developments. If no agreement is reached, Prime Minister Johnson has been instructed by Parliament to request a further delay until the end of January 2020. However, Johnson insists that he will not make any such request so we expect more legal and political drama to be on the immediate horizon.