BREXIT LIVE: Johnson fails to secure meaningful vote on Brexit deal

By Francis Jay

Growing confidence in Tory ranks that Johnson can win the 320 votes needed to secure victory but many obstacles remain


UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has told the government it cannot have a vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal because it was posing the same question to Parliament twice.

Instead, Bercow wants the legislation required for Britain’s departure from the European Union to go through Parliament first rather than having a straight ‘yes or no’ vote on the agreement - the so-called meaningful vote.

Johnson's first effort to hold a meaningful vote failed on Saturday October 19 when MPs voted 322 to 306 in favour of the amendment proposed by former Tory cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin postponing a decision on the PM's deal.

The Letwin amendment says the meaningful vote can only happen once the full Withdrawal Agreement bill has completed its passage through the Commons.

In effect, this means MPs will have more opportunity to propose amendments, including possibly one for a second referendum and another for keeping the UK in the European customs union.

There is growing confidence in Tory ranks that Johnson could win the 320 votes needed to secure victory.

Saturday's vote triggered the so-called Benn Act, obliging him to send a letter to the EU immediately asking a delay.

As a result, Johnson arranged a flurry of letters to the EU.

The first was unsigned and replicated the wording required in the Benn act to seek an extension of negotiations until January 31 2020. The second was an explanatory letter from Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's Permanent Representative in Brussels, explaining that the first letter was from Parliament and not the Government. And the third was a personal letter explaining that Johnson did not want an extension.

Johnson (pictured in the Commons) was defiant in the Commons on Saturday, telling MPs: "The best thing for the UK and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31.

"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so."

He continued: "No delays, and I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31."

Hundreds of thousands of pro-EU protesters (above) filled the streets of central London on Saturday.

Further action in the UK courts is also expected.

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