Johnson faces another vote on his Brexit deal on Tuesday

Rees-Mogg has given just three days to debate the Withdrawal Agreement Bill so it can pass all stages by Thursday

Boris Johnson faces a nail-biting vote on Tuesday as he attempts to rush legislation for his Brexit deal through parliament at breakneck speed so that Britain can leave the EU by October 31st.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has allocated just three days to debate the Withdrawal Agreement Bill so that it would pass all stages by Thursday before moving to the House of Lords.

The bill, which was published on Monday night, is expected to pass its first parliamentary hurdle on Tuesday, with MPs backing its second reading. But the programme motion, which sets out the timetable, faces possible defeat after DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson indicated that his party would vote against it.

"When unionists in Northern Ireland voted for Brexit they also voted to sustain the United Kingdom. And therefore, in the absence of the kind of assurances we need from ministers, I have to say to the leader of the house quite frankly that what he's proposing in terms of proper scrutiny of this bill does not do justice to what the constituents that I represent need," Sir Jeffrey said.


The bill puts into domestic law the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Northern Ireland protocol, agreed in Brussels last week. The bill guarantees that workers' rights will not fall below EU standards after Brexit, a measure that could win the support of some Labour rebels.

It also gives MPs a vote on the government’s negotiating mandate for Britain’s future relationship with the EU, but states that the mandate must be consistent with the Brexit deal’s political declaration, which foresees a free trade agreement rather than, for example, a customs union.

New relationship

Speaker John Bercow prevented the government from putting the Brexit deal to a "meaningful vote" on Monday, but speaking ahead of Tuesday's votes Mr Johnson appealed to MPs to help him take Britain out of the EU by the end of the month.

“We have negotiated a new deal so that we can leave without disruption and provide a framework for a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” he said.

“The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I. Let’s get Brexit done on October 31st and move on.”

However, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the prime minister was trying to bounce MPs into signing off on a bill that could cause huge damage to Britain.

“The truth is Boris Johnson knows that the more time people have to read the small print of his deal, the more it will be exposed for the risks it represents to our economy and communities across the country.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times