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BREXIT LIVE: Election more likely as MPs pass Johnson deal but reject fast-track timetable

By Francis Jay

Allies say Prime Minister will push for snap poll rather than accept lengthy delay

The UK is inching nearer to a General Election. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday October 22, but MPs have put a brake on his plans to leave the European Union (EU) at the end of the month.

The EU is now likely to grant a Brexit extension until January. Johnson said he would pause the legislation after MPs derailed the motion to accelerate the bill’s passage through Parliament and guarantee a Hallowe’en Brexit. The Prime Minister is said to be waiting for details of any extension offer from the EU before deciding on his next move.

The evening started well for Johnson after his Brexit bill won the backing of MPs, something Theresa May failed to achieve three times. But he suffered a significant blow when MPs voted down his fast-track timetable by a majority of 14, demanding more time to scrutinise the legislation. Johnson has repeatedly claimed that Britain would leave the EU by October 31 come what may.

This now seems highly unlikely. After the vote, European Council president Donald Tusk said he would recommend that EU leaders accept the UK’s request for a new deadline of January 31, 2020, with the option of an earlier Brexit if Johnson’s deal is ratified before that date.

That would open up the possibility of Johnson agreeing to a short technical delay to allow a more thorough scrutiny of his bill, but his supporters appear in no mood to compromise.

“This Parliament is broken,” said one of the Prime Minister’s allies. “If Parliament’s delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election.”

Asked about the possibility of an election before Christmas, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland said: “If that’s the only way of resolving this, then yes, bring it on.”

The opposition may also support calls for a General Election, with Labour’s Justice Secretary Richard Burgon insisting he would like to see an election before Christmas.

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