House of Commons to vote on Withdrawal Agreement Friday
LONDON — MPs will vote on the U.K.’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU on Friday, in a last-ditch bid by the government to secure their backing and avoid having to seek a long delay to Brexit.Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said the government would bring forward a motion asking MPs to approve the Withdrawal Agreement element of the Brexit deal package, in isolation from the Political Declaration agreement setting out the broad terms of the future relationship with the EU.Under the terms of the European Council’s conclusions agreed in Brussels last week, approval of the Withdrawal Agreement alone by 11 p.m. would be sufficient for the U.K. to win EU agreement for an exit date of May 22. Failing that, the U.K. must bring forward a new plan by April 12 or leave with no deal, and any longer extension would require the U.K. to take part in the European Parliament election. Decoupling the two elements of the Brexit deal also allowed the government to bypass Commons Speaker John Bercow’s ruling that bringing the Brexit deal itself back for a third vote, unchanged, would not be in keeping with parliamentary convention that the same proposition should not be put to MPs repeatedly during the same session.This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. Also On POLITICO By the numbers Expats on the verge of a Brexit breakdown By Arnau Busquets Guàrdia No majority in House of Commons for any Brexit option By Charlie Cooper Leadsom told MPs: “As I set out to the house today, the European Union will only agree an extension until 22 May if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved this week. Tomorrow’s motion gives parliament the opportunity to secure that extension. I encourage all MPs to support it and ensure that we leave the EU on the 22nd May, giving people and businesses the certainty they need.”MPs approved a motion on Thursday evening authorizing the Friday sitting of the House of Commons.The government’s decision to decouple the two core documents of the Brexit deal represents another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, which promises to unleash further complications should the government win Friday’s vote.A victory would not represent a legal ratification of the Brexit deal under the terms set down in the Withdrawal Act, Leadsom conceded, but she said that if Friday’s vote passes MPs could then begin approving legislation required to formalize the U.K.’s exit — the Withdrawal Agreement Bill — and could “rectify any outstanding matters” during this process.However, regardless of whether the vote passes on Friday, MPs would still be required, under the terms of Article 50 and the Withdrawal Act, to approve some form of “framework for its future relationship” before the deal is ratified. To avoid a no-deal exit the U.K. and EU would have to ratify the deal, and if an extension beyond May is required, the U.K. would have to give notice by April 11 that it intends to take part in European elections.