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- This Week in British Politics: 15th-21st October
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- The Week in British Politics: 11th-17th February 2019
- This Week In British Politics: 14th-19th October 2019
It’s been another a hectic week in British politics. Despite the unlikeliness of a Brexit deal at the beginning of the week, a deal was struck following a breakthrough in negotiations. The question is: will this deal meet Parliament’s approval before the deadline?
On Monday, even Downing Street admitted that there was little hope of the UK reaching a deal, despite the restatement of the Government’s intention to leave by the 31st of October, as outlined in the Queen’s Speech. Hidden in the Queen’s Speech were Government plans to force voters to show ID before they could vote. This controversial proposal is likely to exclude marginalised voters and further alienate people from politics.
Lady Usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke, has the door of the Commons slammed in her face as part of the State Opening of Parliament, as a traditional sign of the authority of the Commons#QueensSpeech latest: https://t.co/KlXjL6ssbz pic.twitter.com/dLQdmeLUBJ
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 14, 2019
On Tuesday, there still seemed to be little cause for optimism, with the sticking point in negotiations being the Northern Irish backstop. Another point of contention is how to give the people of Northern Ireland a say in the new arrangements.
Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, confirmed that if Johnson failed to strike a deal this week he would request a delay to Brexit. This contradicted the ‘do or die‘ slogan that Boris Johnson has espoused since becoming Prime Minister; that is, ensuring that the UK would leave the EU on the 31st of October. However, if the negotiations fail, he would not have a choice. He would have to obey the Benn Act, which Parliament passed several weeks ago, designed to ensure that we do not leave the EU without a deal.
A deal was announced, but Johnson faced an uphill battle to get it through the Saturday sitting of Parliament, as the DUP refused to support it. This is due to the proposed custom checks at the Northern Irish border and the lack of veto power that the Irish have over it. In principle, most of the new deal is the same as Theresa May’s unpopular deal, as the rights of EU citizens and UK citizens in the EU are still guaranteed. The UK will still have to abide by EU laws until the end of 2020, or possibly longer, with a divorce bill of £33 billion.
The pressure was on for the Prime Minister, as he required 320 MPs to pass his new deal through Parliament on Saturday. Since he expelled 23 MPs for disobeying the party whip over the Benn Act, the Conservatives have just 287 MPs, meaning that he needed them, alongside MPs from the opposition to support his deal, in order to get it through.
On Saturday, possibly the most important day for Brexit since the referendum three years ago, Johnson put his deal before Parliament. A motion was tabled by Sir Oliver Letwin that withheld approval for Johnson’s deal until legislation enforcing it had been passed. This motion was supported 322-306 in a humiliating defeat for the government.
— People’s Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) October 19, 2019
The Prime Minister is not giving up on his deal just yet though, as he plans to hold another “meaningful vote” on the issue on Monday. The question now is whether the Speaker, John Bercow, will allow him to do this, as he has said that he will refuse to let Parliament be asked the same question again. So, what is the future of Brexit now?