It would be funny if it did not feel so close to reality. As it currently stands, the next steps in the UK’s exit from the EU are precarious (yet again), which is also reflected in the market volatility around the value of the pound.
Since our last post we have been tempted to make a series of updates, but on reflection felt that if we had done so the contents would have been quickly overcome by events. Several challenges to the Prime Minister failed at the end of last week, but a cross-party amendment initiated by Sir Oliver Letwin MP effectively stalled the progress of the new deal agreed with the EU27 when it was approved by 322 votes to 306 on Saturday. This amendment required the Prime Minister to make the extension request in case the implementing legislation for the new deal failed to be completed by 31 October 2019. Immediately following this, the planned ‘meaningful vote’ on the new deal was abandoned and, as we predicted, Johnson was forced to write a letter to the European Commission Saturday evening requesting an extension, which he sent unsigned and with an accompanying letter stating that he really does not want an extension.
The Prime Minister then sought to bring back the meaningful vote yesterday, but the Speaker of the House of Commons refused to let him do so on the basis that it was an abuse of the House’s time (based on a precedent from 1604). Faced with that further set-back, the UK Government brought forward the legislation to give effect to the new deal, despite it not having received its acceptance in the up or down meaningful vote that had not gone ahead.
Further votes are expected tonight with one of them being on the Government’s proposed three-day timetable to get the legislation approved, which is being met with a lot of resistance in the House of Commons where more than one MP is arguing that people take more time to buy a kitchen than is being given to this key legislation – and which is over 100 pages in length (see here for the draft bill).
If the Government’s timetable is defeated, Prime Minister Johnson wants to abandon the process altogether and seek a general election. Meanwhile, the European Commission has accepted Johnson’s extension request as valid, but has yet to say if it will agree to give it!