Brexit news latest: Government publishes 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill as it seeks to fast-track deal

The government tonight published its Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill ahead of the beginning of a key Commons debate on Tuesday.

It is Downing Street’s attempt to fast-track the legislation through the Commons and ratify Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in just three days.

The bill runs to 110 pages – and is accompanied by 124 pages of explanatory notes.

Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg had earlier told MPs that a debate on the bill would start on Tuesday, with ministers hoping to get it through all its Commons stages by Thursday.

If they are successful, it could pave the way for House of Lords to sit over the weekend in time for the bill to receive its royal assent at the start of next week.

However, they are likely to face opposition attempts to amend the legislation including the “programme motion” setting out the Commons timetable for the bill.

Mr Rees-Mogg warned MPs that if the programme motion was defeated they would not be able to get it through Parliament in time for the UK to leave with a deal on October 31.

“People who do not vote for the programme motion will not be voting for Brexit on October 31,” he said.

Commons speaker rejects Government bid for Brexit ‘meaningful vote’

Earlier, Commons speaker John Bercow rejected a bid by ministers for a fresh meaningful vote on Mr Johnson’s agreement struck last week with Brussels.

Mr Bercow ruled the special Commons sitting on Saturday had voted to delay approval until the implementing legislation had been passed, and that any further vote would be “repetitive and disorderly” under House rules.

He told MPs: “Today’s motion is in substance the same as Saturday’s motion, and the House has decided the matter.”

Downing Street said ministers were “disappointed” with the speaker’s ruling, and would now go ahead with the introduction of the bill.

Under the timetable set out by Mr Rees-Mogg, the bill will get its second reading on the principle of the legislation on Tuesday, followed by a vote on the programme motion.

If it is passed they will then move to the committee stage when MPs can put down amendments.

Despite Saturday’s Commons defeat, ministers believe they do have the numbers to get the bill through with the support of rebel Labour MPs in Leave-supporting areas and former Tories now sitting as independents.

But, with no commons majority and Mr Johnson’s erstwhile allies in the DUP resolutely opposed, he still faces a major battle to achieve his pledge to lead the country out of the EU by the October 31 deadline.

Labour has denied it is trying to scupper the agreement by planning to amend it to secure a customs union and a second referendum as the legislation passes through parliament.

Number 10 is opposed to a customs union and second referendum, and warned that if the legislation in the Commons “steps too far away” from what has been agreed with the EU then it would “bring into question ratification”.

Additional reporting by PA.


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