PM JOHNSON urged MPs last night to back his EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill and approve a three-day timetable to consider the legislation and adopt it by Thursday (tomorrow) night.
The anti-Brexit coalition of Labour, LibDems and SNP ‘Remainer’ MPs is absolutely determined to defeat the government over this timetable. They insist that the Benn Act to kick the leaving date further down the road must be carried out!
Meanwhile, the European Council President, Donald Tusk, has told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that he is consulting the 27 EU leaders on how to react to the UK Parliament’s request for a Brexit delay, and ‘will decide in the coming days’.
The Prime Minister had sent an unsigned letter to the EU Council that relayed the House of Commons’ decision to ask for the October 31 leaving date to be changed, while at the same time he contacted EU leaders to tell them that he was opposed to any such change and urged them to stick with October 31, as agreed, for the date for the UK to leave the EU.
In this stand the Johnson government is representing the 17.4 million voters who won the 2016 EU referendum, and whose vote Parliament as a whole voted not only to respect but to carry out by massive majorities.
If the EU will not change its leaving date, the UK will cease to be a member of the EU on October 31. It it does, the Remainer UK parliamentary majority will be encouraged to carry on and do its worst, as it has done by using the courts and the judiciary to overrule Parliament on the prorogation of the House of Commons, and then by forcing the PM to send a letter to the EU on the Benn Act requesting to change the leaving date, promising Johnson a jail spell if he refuses.
MPs believed by ministers to be ready to back the prime minister include pro-Leave Labour rebels and former Tory MPs now sitting as independents who would rather leave with Johnson’s deal than leave under ‘no deal’.
If MPs back the bill, they will then vote on the government’s ‘programme motion’, which sets out the timetable for the legislation’s passage through the Commons.
On Monday, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘People who do not vote for the programme motion will not be voting for Brexit on October 31.’
In fact, there are plans by the Remainers to not only change the leaving date by three months – to give them more time to do their dirty work – but to then amend the proposed legislation at the Committee stage today to bring back the UK remaining in the Customs Union and also to stage a second referendum.
The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is a document of 110 pages that details exactly how Parliament is expected to put the deal that the prime minister agreed with his counterparts into UK law.
If the programme motion is approved, the bill will then move to the committee stage – which will continue on into today – when MPs will have the opportunity to put down amendments. These are expected to include attempts to keep the UK more closely aligned with the EU through a Customs Union and to stage a second referendum.
Both are bitterly opposed by the government, raising the possibility that it will dump the bill altogether if either gets through, and demand a general election. Ahead of the debate, PM Johnson said: ‘The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I. Let’s get Brexit done on 31 October and move on.’
Today and tomorrow will see the committee stage – where detailed examination of the bill takes place and specific amendments, on a fresh referendum for example, – will be tabled and voted on.
The bill then moves on to the report stage, which offers further opportunities for amendments before it moves to a third reading. This is MPs’ final chance to debate the bill before voting on whether to approve it. If approved, it then moves to the Lords to begin a similar scrutiny process.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Labour is ‘outraged’ by the government’s attempt to push the bill through in a short time.
No doubt, new legal action to make the bill itself illegal on a number of cooked up grounds, including the ‘lack of time to consider all options is being prepared at this very moment by the SNP, DUP, the LibDems and the Labour Party. There is only one way forward for the struggle to take the UK out of the EU and that is to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
The working class must intervene in the coming days with strike actions and a general strike to force the UK out of the EU on October 31st, and then bring down the Johnson government and to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
This will complete the struggle that workers began in 2016 and provide a brilliant example to workers throughout the EU over what they should do about it to go forward to a Socialist United States of Europe!