NEWS

Remainers BLOCK Boris Johnson’s crunch Brexit vote

Remainers BLOCK Boris Johnson’s crunch Brexit vote

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.Boris Johnson tonight revealed that he will tell EU leaders not to delay Brexit and will refuse to negotiate an extension – after MPs passed up the opportunity for a fourth time to vote for a deal.The Commons voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment postponing a decision on the PM’s deal, and activating the Benn Act – a Remainer law that compels him to send a letter by midnight asking Brussels for a delay.But Mr Johnson was defiant in the Commons, sparking confusion over whether he will comply with the legislation or try to find a loophole to keep his ‘do or die’ promise to sever ties by October 31. And in a letter to MPs he characterised the Benn Act as ‘Parliament’s request for a delay’ as European Union Council president Donald Tusk tweeted tonight that he was still waiting for the letter to arrive. Responding to the result, he defiantly insisted he would not change his stance. ‘The best thing for the UK and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31,’ he said.’I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.’He added: ‘No delays, and I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31.’  In his letter, sent tonight, he said: ‘I will not negotiate a delay with the European Union. I will tell the EU what I have told the British public for my 88 days as Prime Minister: further delay is not a solution.’ In a bid to distance himself from the decision to ask for a Brexit extension, he added: ‘It is quite possible that our friends in the European Union will reject Parliament’s request for further delay (or not take a decision quickly).’  WHAT HAPPENS TO BREXIT NOW?  What happens if Boris Johnson does not send the letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay?The Hillary Benn Law says the Prime Minister must send a letter to Brussels asking for a Brexit extension. But Boris Johnson vowed not to negotiate a Brexit delay in the Commons this afternoon. He said: ‘I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.’ If the Prime Minister does not send the letter, he would be breaking the law and Remainers would start legal action to stop him. What legal loophole does Boris Johnson think he has found?  Number 10 may well have concluded that it can send the letter while also spelling out to the EU, potentially in a second letter or through other means, that the government does not actually want a delay in the hope the EU does not offer one. What can Remainers do to stop the PM if he does not comply with the Benn Act?If the PM failed to send the letter or tried to frustrate the purpose of the Benn Act then Remainers will almost certainly launch legal action and the battle over Brexit would head to the courts.The turnaround on any legal action would likely be swift with a potential Supreme Court hearing in a matter of days. What does the Benn Act actually ask the PM to do?Contained within the legislation is a pre-written letter which the PM is required to sign and send to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, by midnight if no Brexit deal has been agreed by MPs.It asks the EU to postpone the Brexit divorce date until January 31 next year. The letter reads: ‘The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. The Conservative Party also tweeted: ‘Parliament has voted to delay Brexit again. The Prime Minister will not ask for a delay – he will tell EU leaders there should be no more delays and we should get Brexit done on October 31st with our new deal so the country can move on.’ Despite this, it is understood the Prime Minister has confirmed to European Council president Donald Tusk that he will be writing to him on Saturday night to seek a Brexit delay, according to the Press Association. Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment that scuppered his deal was backed by Labour MPs and ten former Tory rebels including Philip Hammond and David Gauke. Mr Johnson said his deal is not dead and he is expected to bring forward implementation legislation on Tuesday. He swiped: ‘The meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.’ But during angry scenes in the chamber, Jeremy Corbyn demanded the PM ‘obeys the law’ and asked the EU for an extension. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson urged Speaker John Bercow to suspend the sitting so the PM could go and write the letter, and return to inform them it can be sent.Downing Street flatly refused to say whether the PM would be penning the letter to Brussels, merely pointing reporters to the PM’s words in the House. But a tweet put out by the Conservative Party went further and stated that Mr Johnson ‘will not ask for a delay’.There is also confusion over whether the government will try to re-run the ‘meaningful’ vote on the deal on Monday. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the move in the aftermath of the showdown this afternoon, but Speaker John Bercow complained he had been ‘blindsided’ and suggested he might rule it out of order. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said it ‘took note’ of the outcome this afternoon and was waiting for the UK to set out the ‘next steps’.  And Irish PM Leo Varadkar delivered another thinly-veiled warning that no-one should assume the EU will allow an extension.’To date, no request for an extension has been made by the UK government,’ he tweeted.’Should that happen, President Tusk will consult all 27 Heads of State & Govt on whether or not we will grant one. Extension can only be granted by unanimity.’ The government was condemned to defeat when 10 former Tories teamed up with Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and a rag-tag bag of independents. But in a boost for Mr Johnson, no current Conservative MPs rebelled. The breakdown of the voting also underlined how close Mr Johnson is to putting together a majority for his deal in the House, with many of those who backed Letwin also saying they will support the deal when it comes to the crunch. Tory whips had admitted beforehand that they were not hopeful of seeing off the Letwin amendment – which he insisted was only intended to stave off the threat of No Deal. Mr Johnson held last-ditch meetings with the DUP, who have accused him of betrayal for striking a deal that undermines the union, as he pleaded with them to come to the rescue. But the overtures did not go down well, as the PM’s former allies wreaked revenge for being thrown under the bus. ‘They are not in a positive place,’ one government source said ruefully.  Boris Johnson revealed in a letter today that he will not ask the EU for a delay to Brexit. He wrote: ‘I will not negotiate a delay with the European Union. I will tell the EU what I have told the British public for my 88 days as Prime Minister: further delay is not a solution’In the ‘Super Saturday’ showdown in the House of Commons today, Boris Johnson complained he was being prevented from forcing a ‘meaningful’ decision by Letwin amendment Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, tweeted following Mr Johnson’s letter: ‘Waiting for the letter. I just talked to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the situation after the vote in the House of Commons’ The government was condemned to defeat when 10 former Tories teamed up with Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and a rag-tag bag of independents. In a boost for Mr Johnson, no current Conservative MPs rebelled – although one, Caroline Spelman, appears to have abstainedOliver Letwin (pictured left in the Commons today) tabled the extraordinary amendment to block the PM’s crunch vote later. Former chancellor Ken Clarke (right) said he will back the deal when legislation comes before Parliament After the result, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded the PM ‘obeys the law’ and asks the EU for an extension  Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg was barracked by Remainer protesters as he left Parliament with one of his sons todayIrish PM Leo Varadkar warned an extension ‘can only be granted by unanimity’ (left). A tweet put out by the Conservative Party (right) seemed to suggest Mr Johnson would not ‘ask for a delay’ – although he carefully avoided saying that in the CommonsUp to one anti-Brexit millions protesters gathered in London as the vote took place. There were grim confrontations around the estate as MPs, including Mr Rees-Mogg, headed for home.Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has alleged she received ‘frightening’ abuse from anti-Brexit protesters shortly after MPs voted to delay a vote on Boris Johnson’s deal. Kicking off the ‘Super Saturday’ showdown in the House of Commons earlier, Mr Johnson complained that there might not be a ‘meaningful’ decision for days longer. He said it was ‘urgent’ for the country to get past the standoff and ‘unite’, saying his deal can ‘heal the rift in British politics’. ‘Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together today,’ he insisted. Mr Johnson warned the ‘scope for fruitful negotiation has run its course’. ‘It is now my judgement that we have reached the best possible solution,’ he said.   Letwin plan makes PM beg for Brexit delay and set up ANOTHER deal showdown next week  Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin tabled an amendment that would prevent the PM’s Brexit deal being put to a formal vote this afternoon. It withholds approval of the plan until after legislation has been put on the statute book.Mr Johnson could now be forced by a separate Remainer law – the Benn Act – to beg the EU tonight for a Brexit extension beyond Halloween.It is unclear whether European leaders will accept the request immediately, and Mr Johnson insists he can still meet his ‘do or die’ date of October 31. The big showdown on the deal is likely to come on Tuesday, in a second reading vote on the implementation legislation.  Ironically, the Letwin roadblock emerged just as the premier seemed to be on the brink of a breakthrough.He has been boosted by the support of leading Tory ‘Spartan’ Mark Francois and ex-Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, and Steve Baker, head of the Eurosceptic ERG bloc, today urged his colleagues to fall into line.There was mounting speculation that at least a dozen Labour MPs would support the package dramatically thrashed out with Brussels this week. That would offset furious opposition from his former DUP allies and Mr Corbyn, and put the premier on the threshold of an historic triumph that could define the country for a generation.However, despite polls showing the public is weary of three years of bitter wrangling after the referendum, an extraordinary piece of Parliamentary trickery deprived the PM of the ‘clean’ vote he craves on his deal.Sir Oliver – who served in Cabinet under David Cameron – tabled an amendment that would effectively denied approval of the deal until after detailed implementation law has been passed.Speaker John Bercow confirmed this morning that he had selected the change for debate, and it was passed with support from Labour and Lib Dem Remainers, many of whom still want a referendum to cancel Brexit altogether.Letwin’s amendment did not outright kill the deal, making it easier for a range of MPs to endorse the amendment instead of giving the Prime Minister his moment of truth.Labour MP Gareth Snell, who is widely expected to support the deal when it comes to a vote, told the Commons he would back the Letwin move. However, it was angrily condemned by a series of other MPs including Labour’s Caroline Flint, who branded it a ‘panic measure’. She said the plot demonstrated that the ‘sponsors of the Benn Act had only one intention – to delay Brexit and stop it’. A statement from France’s presidential Elysee Palace said there is nothing to be gained by prolonging a decision on the Brexit deal. It said any additional delay ‘is in the interest of no-one’.French president Emmanuel Macron’s office said given that a deal has been negotiated, ‘it’s now up to the British Parliament to say if it approves or rejects it. There must be a vote on the fundamentals’. Sir Oliver Letwin is pictured being congratulated by anti-Brexit protesters after his amendment effectively denied approval of the deal until after detailed implementation law has been passed Anti-Brexit protesters claim up to a million people gathered in London today. An aerial shot shows them in Parliament Square The Metropolitan Police were braced for the large-scale demonstration and were pictured separating a heated exchange between the activists and a pro-Brexit counter-protest Anti-Brexit protesters have flooded on to the streets of London for a mammoth demonstration to coincide with Parliament’s crunch vote on Boris Johnson ‘s withdrawal deal Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom also alleged ‘frightening’ abuse from anti-Brexit protesters shortly after MPs voted to delay a vote on Boris Johnson’s deal Michael Gove is escorted by police as he leaves the Houses of Parliament this afternoon The independent MPs who voted in favour of Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment this afternoonIn the Commons this afternoon, Theresa May warned that the ‘eyes of the world are on us’ as she urged colleagues to get behind the new package thrashed out by Boris Johnson  The House of Commons was absolutely jam packed for the dramatic debate on the Prime Minister’s deal today In another day of high-stakes drama at the Houses of Parliament as the Brexit saga drew towards a culmination:Commons leader Jacob Ress-Mogg and one of his young sons were barracked by Remainer protesters as they left Parliament escorted by police; Furious Tories turned on Sir Oliver branding him ‘too clever by half’ and accusing him of making the first Saturday sitting since the Falklands War ‘meaningless’; The chiefs of the Eurosceptic ERG bloc urged its MPs to back the PM in a key boost for the deal’s prospects. David Trimble, an architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has endorsed it; The DUP voiced anger, with deputy leader Nigel Dodds confronting Mr Johnson saying ‘weariness’ on Brexit is ‘no excuse for weakness on Brexit and weakness on the union’; Former chancellor Philip Hammond suggested he will oppose the deal, saying he would not be tricked into support a ‘camouflaged No Deal’ at the end of the transition period; Remainers kept pushing for a second referendum with Tony Blair urging MPs to be ‘patient’ and oppose the deal so that there would need to be another public ballot;  European leaders watched closely after Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar warned there was no guarantee that they will grant any request for an extension – suggesting MPs will have to choose between this deal and No Deal; Mr Johnson held out an olive branch to Labour MPs by pledging an automatic right to vote on whether to adopt future EU laws on workers’ rights; Having failed to fend off the Letwin challenge, the rebel Benn Act dictates that he must beg the EU for an extension by tonight – breaking his ‘do or die’ vow to get the UK out of the bloc by October 31.Mr Johnson seemed to accept during his statement to MPs this morning that he will send a letter asking for a delay. ‘Whatever letters they may seek to enforce the Government to write, it cannot change my judgement that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust,’ he said. But he pointedly avoided confirming that he would do so after the shattering vote this afternoon. There were grim confrontations around the estate as MPs headed for home. The man behind the plot to sabotage Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan Sir Oliver Letwin has been a repeated thorn in the side of the government over Brexit. His amendment forces Boris Johnson to ask the EU to delay UK’s departure beyond October 31. It also robs the Prime Minister of the chance to test the will of the House of Commons to see if a majority of MPs support his Brexit deal. Sir Oliver has insisted that the move is just about bolstering protections against a No Deal split from the EU. It requires the government to pass all the legislation needed to enact Brexit before MPs finally sign off on the terms of the agreement. But his critics believe it is nothing less than a wrecking amendment designed to stop the UK leaving the EU. This is hardly the first time that the former high-ranking Cabinet minister has been involved in efforts which have frustrated the government’s Brexit proposals. He has been one of the leading Brexit rebels among Remain-backing MPs as they have tried and succeeded in their efforts to rule out a No Deal Brexit. His name was at the top of a motion passed at the start of September which enabled MPs to take control of the Commons and subsequently pass the Benn Act, the anti-No Deal law that will force the PM to ask the EU for a delay if no agreement has been backed by close of play this evening.Sir Oliver was loyal to Theresa May’s original Brexit deal as he backed it on all three occasions when it was put to a vote.But the prospect of a No Deal Brexit prompted him to play a central role in bringing forward the indicative votes process earlier this year when MPs tried and failed to agree a Brexit option that a majority in the Commons could back. His rebellion over opposition to No Deal came to a head last month when he was one of 21 MPs stripped of the Tory whip after supporting a bid to block a disorderly split from the EU. He is in many respects an unlikely rebel. Educated at Eton and then Cambridge, the 63-year-old first entered politics as a member of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit in Number 10 in the 1980s. He was then first elected as the Tory MP for West Dorset in 1997 before making a rapid rise up the ranks, joining the opposition frontbench and eventually becoming shadow chancellor in 2003.He became a key figure in David Cameron’s administration, acting as the PM’s ‘fixer’, after he helped to draw up the Tories’ 2010 election manifesto. After being a constant in Mr Cameron’s governments, Sir Oliver was then ousted from the frontbench by Theresa May when she became PM in 2016. Sir Oliver is regarded as a ‘big brain’ in Whitehall circles and is viewed as a man who has a gift for creative thinking and problem solving. But he has over the years developed a reputation as a hapless politician who has been prone to gaffes and finding himself in embarrassing situations. He once unwittingly welcomed two burglars into his London home after they said they wanted to use the bathroom. He was also once spotted discarding parliamentary papers into a bin in St James’s Park. Before the 2001 election he and his local challengers dressed up in togas for a debate. In 2015 he apologised after it emerged he had blamed ‘bad moral attitudes’ in black inner-city communities for riots in the 1980s in a paper he had helped write. Outside of politics, Sir Oliver is married and has two children.   He is expected to stand down as an MP at the next election.  Mr Rees-Mogg and one of his young sons were subjected to cat calls and booing as they walked through Whitehall flanked by a group of police.And Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: ‘Thank goodness for our superb police. Just walked home safely from HoC with their protection – why do the so called ”People’s Vote” protesters think it’s ok to abuse, intimidate and scream in the face of someone they don’t agree with? So frightening, and so grateful to the police.’ In his statement to MPs as the debate kicked off this morning, Mr Johnson said the Brexit issue must not be allowed to ‘consume’ Westminster any more. ‘I do hope that in assembling for the purposes of a meaningful vote that we will indeed be allowed to have a meaningful vote this evening,’ he said.  ‘The House will need no reminding that this is the second deal and the fourth vote, three-and-a-half years after the nation voted for Brexit. ‘And during those years friendships have been strained, families divided and the attention of this House consumed by a single issue that has at times felt incapable of resolution. ‘But I hope that this is the moment when we can finally achieve that resolution and reconcile the instincts that compete within us.’ Mr Johnson said the agreement ‘provides for a real Brexit’, adding: ‘Taking back control of our borders, laws, money, farming, fisheries and trade – amounting to the greatest single restoration of national sovereignty in parliamentary history. ‘It removes the backstop, which would have held us against our will in the customs union and much of the single market. ‘For the first time in almost five decades the UK will be able to strike free trade deals with our friends across the world.’ Mr Johnson played down DUP concerns that Northern Ireland had been cut loose by Britain in the deal, telling MPs: ‘Above all we and our European friends have preserved the letter and the spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and upheld the longstanding areas of cooperation between the UK and Ireland, including the common travel area.’ A shout of ‘it’s a sell out’ could be heard from one MP on the opposition benches as Mr Johnson spoke. But Mr Corbyn made clear that Labour will back the Letwin amendment and oppose the deal.’Labour is not prepared to sell out the communities that we represent,’ he raged. ‘We are not prepared to sell out their future and we will not back this sell-out deal. This is about our communities now and about our future generations.’ During the debate, Theresa May launched a vicious tirade at Remainer MPs mounting a ‘con trick’ to reverse the referendum result today as she backed Boris Johnson’s deal. The former PM warned that the ‘eyes of the world are on us’ as she urged colleagues to get behind the new package thrashed out with Brussels.She demanded MPs who are planning to oppose the deal ‘put the national interest first’ and honour the will of the public.’Do we want to deliver Brexit?’ she stormed. ‘When we voted to trigger Article 50 did we really mean it?’The PM has been focusing his efforts to drum up support for the deal on Tory Eurosceptics, 21 former Tory rebels, and up to 30 Labour ‘realists’ who have suggested they could line up behind the proposals. Some 28 Conservative ‘Spartans’ did not vote for Theresa May’s deal on any of the three occasions it was brought, but Mr Johnson looks set to secure backing from almost all over them. With around a dozen Labour MPs appearing minded to defy threats of deselection and support the deal, the bulk of 21 former Tory rebels coming round, and a handful of independents, the government is on the threshold of the 320 winning line. Mr Francois told his Rayleigh constitution association last night that he would be supporting the deal. Another ‘Spartan’ Anne-Marie Morris has also said she will be voting in favour.Another Tory hardliner, Peter Bone, said he was yet to decide for certain but was minded to fall into line. ‘I will vote for his deal if it’s made clear in the Commons today we will leave the transition period on December 31 2020 and no later,’ Mr Bone said.DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds (left) said ‘weariness’ on Brexit is ‘no excuse for weakness on Brexit and weakness on the union’. Michael Gove (pictured right in the Commons today) condemned the Letwin amendment as misguided Maverick No10 strategist Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street today as the Brexit drama unfolded in WestminsterAn effigy of a puppet Prime Minister being controlled by his hardline Brexiteer adviser Dominic Cummings was wheeled down Whitehall this afternoon Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart led the People’s Vote march on Parliament to persuade MPs to swing behind a second Brexit referendum Ten ex-Tory rebels including Philip Hammond pull the rug from under PMs deal  Ten ex-Tories including former Cabinet Ministers Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd wreaked their revenge on Boris Johnson today by pulling the rug from under his Brexit deal today.A slew of MPs forced out or who left the party since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister joined his supposed DUP allies in voting for a rebel amendment in a dramatic showdown this afternoon.They also included ex-chancellor Ken Clarke – who indicated he would support the deal, as well as hardcore Remainer ex-Tories Justine Greening, Nick Boles, David Gauke and Guto Bebb. With Mr Johnson losing the vote by 322 to 306, their votes on his behalf would have seen Sir Oliver Letwin’s wrecking manoeuvre defeated, allowing a full meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement.With the Government planning to introduce the full Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Monday it leaves the success of the deal on a knife edge. Mr Duncan Smith urged his colleagues to back the deal, and swiped that Sir Oliver should ‘stow’ his concerns. ‘I beg my colleagues… we have got to vote down the Letwin amendment,’ he told the -. ‘This vote has to be clear to our partners in Europe and clear to the country that we are now on a track to leave under this deal. ‘I just wish Oliver Letwin, for once, would stow it now.’ He added: ‘I beg my colleagues, it’s for the country now, we have to get this over the line.’ Senior backbencher Damian Collins tweeted: ‘The Letwin amendment is another of those Brexit ideas which is too clever by half. If it passes it effectively renders today’s Saturday sitting of parliament meaningless, at a time when the country and the EU needs to know whether parliament accepts the new withdrawal deal or not.’ One government source said of the Letwin amendment: ‘It’s an act of sabotage dressed up as reasonableness. MPs are still trying to put off the moment of decision.’Sir Oliver insisted that he was a supporter of the Prime Minister’s plans and that it was only designed to act as an insurance policy to ensure that the UK did not leave the EU without a deal on October 31.But a Government source said: ‘The amendment is not about conditional approval – it is explicitly withholding approval. The vast majority of the signatories have no intention of ever voting for a deal, and have never done so. They want an extension and a chance for a second referendum.’  Hillary Benn (left in Westminster today) has given his name to the legislation that could force the PM to beg for a Brexit extension. Boris Johnson’s brother Jo (right) quit the government last month, and it is not clear whether he will back the deal Boris Johnson (pictured leaving Downing Street today) had his moment of triumph snatched away by an ‘act of sabotage’ despite being within touching distance of getting a majority for his deal Six Labour MPs defy Jeremy Corbyn to vote with the government on crunch No Deal amendmentA rebel amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin which will force Boris Johnson to ask the EU for a Brexit delay was agreed by 322 votes to 306, a majority of 16. Labour supported the move but six of the party’s MPs decided to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote with the government in a failed attempt to stop Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans being scuppered. Attention immediately turned to whether the rebels will now face disciplinary action. But MailOnline understands the six MPs – Sir Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Kate Hoey and John Mann – will receive a slap on the wrist from party whips and nothing more. Mr Corbyn had suggested last week that Labour MPs who backed the government on Brexit would not be expelled from the party. He said at the time that he believed ‘in the power of persuasion rather than the power of threat’. ERG chairman Steve Baker tweeted the group’s ‘advice to MPs’ after a meeting this morning: ‘1. Vote for Boris’s deal in the national interest. ‘2. Support the legislation to completion in good faith, provided it is not spoiled by opponents of Brexit. ‘3. Vote with Boris throughout to give him maximum opportunity to deliver for our country.’ However, former Tory Antoinette Sandbach confirmed that she would not be joining the government in the division lobbies, saying the package is worse than Mrs May’s plan. Mr Hammond said he would not be ‘duped’ into backing something that could lead to a ‘heavily camouflaged no-deal’ departure.The ex-top minister said the Prime Minister needed to ‘reassure’ sceptics like him that the withdrawal agreement would not lead to the UK crashing out of the EU next year because the backstop had been removed.It came after Tory MP John Baron claimed yesterday that he had been assured by No 10 that the deal would allow the UK to sever ties with the EU if it fails to secure a trade deal.Writing in the Times Mr Hammond said: ‘My former colleague, John Baron MP, gave the game away: they are being told that, once we are out, the UK will make a take-it-or-leave-it proposal for a minimum-ambition,”Canada-minus” trade deal on the UK’s terms and when the EU rejects it, the UK will leave without a trade deal at the end of 2020.’I haven’t come this far seeking to avoid no deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020. But I am not a lost cause!’Meanwhile, Remainers stepped up their efforts to thwart a resolution of Brexit standoff and force a referendum.Former prime minister Tony Blair told the Today programme: ‘If this deal had been put before the British parliament a year ago, or two years ago, there is absolutely no way it would pass.  ‘The only reason the Government can try and get it passed now is frankly… people are completely fed up with Brexit. They want it over. They want it done with.’ Voters last night threw their weight behind Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal.On the eve of today’s dramatic Commons vote on his withdrawal plan, 50 per cent said MPs should back it.The Survation poll for the Daily Mail showed 38 per cent were against the deal with 12 per cent undecided.The survey found a surge in support for the Tories following the Prime Minister’s breakthrough at this week’s EU summit. They are now on 32 per cent, five points up on their tally three weeks ago. Optimism was mounting in No 10 last night that MPs will back the agreement. A source said: ‘It is incredibly close, but it is doable.’However the situation became even more tense when Sir Oliver tabled a plan to force Mr Johnson to seek another delay to Brexit.   Ex-chancellor Philip Hammond blasts Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal saying he will not be ‘duped’ into voting for a ‘heavily camouflaged no-deal’ departure  Former Tory chancellor Philip Hammond tore into Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal today saying he would not be ‘duped’ into backing something that could lead to a ‘heavily camouflaged no-deal’ departure.The ex-top minister said the Prime Minister needed to ‘reassure’ sceptics like him that the withdrawal agreement would not lead to the UK crashing out of the EU next year because the backstop had been removed.It came after Tory MP John Baron claimed yesterday that he had been assured by No 10 that the deal would allow the UK to sever ties with the EU if it fails to secure a trade deal.His intervention came as MPs met for a historic Commons sitting today in order to vote on Mr Johnson’s deal.Mr Hammond’s fellow Remainer ex-Tory Antoinette Sandbach indicated she would also vote against the deal. Writing in the Times Mr Hammond said: ‘My former colleague, John Baron MP, gave the game away: they are being told that, once we are out, the UK will make a take-it-or-leave-it proposal for a minimum-ambition,”Canada-minus” trade deal on the UK’s terms and when the EU rejects it, the UK will leave without a trade deal at the end of 2020.’I haven’t come this far seeking to avoid no deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020. But I am not a lost cause!’ Today’s poll shows that a total of 47 per cent of people say they support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, while 38 per cent say they are against it.Voters were also in no doubt as to who blinked first in the EU talks – with 52 per cent saying the UK gave most ground. Only 20 per cent think Brussels backed down. A total of 47 per cent believe Mr Johnson’s plan should go to a referendum, compared with 44 against the idea.When voters are given a straight choice between the Prime Minister’s deal and remaining in the EU there is a dead heat, with both sides winning 50 per cent.Remarkably, 29 per cent of Labour voters say they would back Mr Johnson’s deal in such a referendum; 71 per cent say they would not back his deal.But a different picture emerges if, as argued by Brexiteers, voters are given a third option of leaving with No Deal. Remain gets most support, 45 per cent, based on first preferences – though no option gets over the 50 per cent winning line. The poll showed that most of the extra backing for the Tories was at the expense of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, whose support has fallen by 3 per cent.The results of the survey heap more humiliation on beleaguered Mr Corbyn. One in five of his own Labour voters would rather see Mr Johnson in Downing Street. Millions of Labour supporters have written off his chances of ever seizing power.Asked who they thought will win the next election, just 31 per cent of Labour voters think Mr Corbyn: exactly the same number, 31 per cent, say Mr Johnson will beat him.If Mr Johnson delivers his pledge to leave the EU by October 31, he can expect a further surge in his ratings. A total of 33 per cent say they will be more likely to vote Conservative; 23 per cent say they will be less likely to do so.Former Labour MP Frank Field (left) is expected to back the deal when it eventually comes to a vote. Change UK leader Anna Soubry, a former Tory minister, will be against the deal How ‘Pariah’ Sir Oliver Letwin pulled the rug from under the Prime Minister to thwart his deal Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin continued his run of parliamentary scheming with his amendment that put the Prime minister’s withdrawal agreement in a legislative straight jacket.  MPs voted 322-306 to approve his edit to the meaningful vote that forces the PM to write a letter to Brussels demanding a delay to Brexit or risk breaking the law.He was able to do this after Speaker John Bercow allowed the amendment to be put top a vote, picking it first this morning.Mr Letwin surprised Westminster watchers by making his decision just before Mr Johnson got to his feet to make a speech imploring MPs to back the deal hammered out with Brussels.One pro-Brexit Conservative vented his frustration at Sir Oliver, saying: ‘Letwin is a pariah.’ The West Dorset MP was one of 21 Conservatives expelled from the party in September for not supporting Johnson’s pledge to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, and he has focused his parliamentary acumen on preventing a no-deal Brexit. The Remain voter’s amendment withholds parliamentary approval of the Brexit deal until after legislation has been put on the statute book. It forces Boris Johnson to ask the EU to delay the UK’s departure beyond October 31.  What happens if Boris Johnson does not send the legally required letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay? MPs backed a rebel amendment this afternoon which has scuppered Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan. The Prime Minister wanted MPs to formally back his deal today but a proposal put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin to ruin the premier’s hopes of making Brexit progress was passed by 322 votes to 306. The amendment will now force the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit delay under the terms of the anti-No Deal law known as the Benn Act.  The amendment does not kill off Mr Johnson’s deal and it will still be possible for him to deliver Brexit by October 31. But the path to fulfilling his ‘do or die’ Halloween pledge will now be fraught with difficulty and the chances of a Brexit delay have increased exponentially. Here is a breakdown of what is likely to happen now the amendment has been backed by MPs. What happens if Boris Johnson does not send a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay?The PM will now seemingly have to comply with the Benn Act and send a letter to Brussels asking for a Brexit extension. The government has long maintained that it will comply with the law but Mr Johnson muddied the water immediately after the Letwin result was announced as he said he ‘will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so’. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman then refused to answer questions about whether the PM will send the letter required by the Benn Act. ‘We are not going to add anything to the PM’s words in the House,’ the spokesman said. However, the spokesman did repeat that ‘governments comply with the law’ in a hint that the PM could send the letter while also potentially making clear to the EU that he does not want the bloc to grant a delay. The PM has midnight to comply with the terms of the anti-No Deal legislation.   Boris Johnson, pictured in the House of Commons today, wanted MPs to back his Brexit deal today but his plans were scuppered The PM’s hopes of making Brexit progress were torpedoed after an amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Lewtin was agreed by MPs. It is designed to force the PM to ask for a Brexit delayRegardless of what happens with the letter, the PM is expected to bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation needed to actually make Brexit happen – on Monday this week to try to crash it through Parliament as quickly as possible. If he is able to get MPs and peers to agree to the draft legislation in the coming days he would then be able to hold the ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal, paving the way for the UK to leave the EU on time.What legal loophole does Boris Johnson think he has found? The PM will have sought extensive legal advice on exactly what the Benn Act requires him to do. Unless the government has come up with an unexpectedly brilliant and top secret legal argument against having to send the letter to the EU, it is hard to see how the premier can avoid asking the bloc for an extension. However, it is possible Number 10 may well have concluded it can send the letter while also spelling out to the EU, potentially in a second letter or through other means, that the government does not actually want a delay in the hope one is not offered.But such an approach will be closely scrutinised by Remain-backing MPs who will pounce if they believe the PM is trying to frustrate the purpose of the law. Effectively, if the PM does anything to try to contradict the stated goal of the legislation – to ask for a delay – he could face accusations of trying to undermine the law. What can Remainers do to stop the PM if he does not comply with the Benn Act?If the PM fails to send the letter or is believed to have tried to frustrate the purpose of the Benn Act then Remainers will almost certainly launch immediate legal action and the battle over Brexit will head to the courts. The turnaround on any legal challenge would likely be swift with a potential Supreme Court hearing in a matter of days. What does the Benn Act actually ask the PM to do?Contained within the legislation is a pre-written letter which the PM is required to sign and send to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, by the end of today if no Brexit deal has been agreed by MPs.It asks the EU to postpone the Brexit divorce date until January 31 next year. The letter reads: ‘The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.’I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.’Yours sincerely, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’What happens now to Boris Johnson’s deal?The Prime Minister’s deal is very much alive and he could still deliver Brexit by October 31 but he will have to put his agreement into law first.The amendment withholds support for the PM’s deal until such a time as the government has brought forward and passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. By failing to agree to a Brexit deal by close of play today, the provisions outlined in the Benn Act will now be triggered and the PM will have to ask the EU to push back the current departure date.  The amendment effectively postpones the ‘meaningful vote’ on the accord until the government has got its Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament. The thinking is that by withholding support for the deal until the key Brexit legislation is in place, MPs will further protect against the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. Some Remainers were suspicious that if MPs backed the PM’s deal today and there was no extension, Brexiteers who want a No Deal split could have then tried to scupper the passage of the law needed to deliver an orderly exit, causing a bad break on Halloween.How likely is it that MPs and peers will agree to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?The Letwin amendment effectively robbed the PM of the chance to test whether there is a majority for his deal. That means that nobody will know for certain whether there is a majority in favour of the so-called WAB. Even if there is a majority it is likely to be a slim one which will make the passage of the legislation incredibly difficult as rebel MPs potentially try to amend and change it. Draft laws have been rushed through parliament in quick time before but whether something as divisive as the legislation to deliver Brexit could be dealt with equally as swiftly is unclear. What happens if the PM is able to get the Brexit law agreed and win a ‘meaningful vote’ before October 31? The UK could still leave the EU on the current timetable but the closer we get to Halloween the tougher that becomes and the chances of a delay increase. If the PM can get the deal signed off by MPs by the end of the coming week – a big if – his ‘do or die’ pledge could still be stuck to. But anything beyond that and time will get extremely tight because once MPs have agreed the deal it still has to go through the European Parliament. What is the EU likely to do? If the PM sends the Brexit delay letter, the bloc will have to decide whether to offer an extension. The most likely scenario is that the EU will keep its powder dry and not formally respond until it has seen whether the PM can win a vote in the Commons this coming week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. If he can, then Brussels will probably hold fire on offering an extension on the grounds that the UK could still agree to a deal and leave on time. If he cannot win a vote on the WAB this week and his deal looks dead then the bloc will face more pressure to make a final decision on any delay. It is thought in such circumstances the bloc would offer a postponement in order to stop a No Deal Brexit. That would pave the way for a general election potentially being held before the end of the year. Could the EU refuse to grant a delay? Yes. Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar have both suggested that they are against any further delay but Angela Merkel reportedly said an extension would be inevitable if the deal is rejected. It is possible that the EU could decide to cuts its losses on the grounds that the Brexit stalemate has gone on for too long. But such a move appears unlikely because it would result in the bloc taking the blame for a No Deal split. Could there be an emergency EU summit? If the PM is able to make progress in the coming days and win a vote on the WAB – potentially on Tuesday – but he is then unable to get everything done by the end of the week there could be an emergency summit held in Brussels on October 28. If the PM’s deal is still alive but more time is needed to get it through Parliament European leaders could agree to a short extension. How ‘Pariah’ Sir Oliver Letwin pulled the rug from under the Prime Minister to thwart his deal with the help of Remainer Speaker John Bercow Boris Johnson’s careful Brexit compromise was blown out of the water this afternoon after he was outflanked by two former Tories. Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin continued his run of parliamentary scheming with his amendment that put the Prime minister’s withdrawal agreement in a legislative straight jacket.  MPs voted 322-306 to approve his edit to the meaningful vote that forces the PM to write a letter to Brussels demanding a delay to Brexit or risk breaking the law.He was able to do this after Speaker John Bercow allowed the amendment to be put top a vote, picking it first this morning. He surprised Westminster watchers by making his decision just before Mr Johnson got to his feet to make a speech imploring MPs to back the deal hammered out with Brussels.One pro-Brexit Conservative vented his frustration at Sir Oliver, saying: ‘Letwin is a pariah.’  Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin continued his run of parliamentary scheming with his amendment that put the Prime minister’s withdrawal agreement in a legislative straight jacket He was able to do this after Speaker John Bercow allowed the amendment to be put top a vote, picking it first this morningThe West Dorset MP was one of 21 Conservatives expelled from the party in September for not supporting Johnson’s pledge to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, and he has focused his parliamentary acumen on preventing a no-deal Brexit.Letwin criticised Johnson’s bid to present lawmakers with a ‘deal or no deal’ choice.’I, despite my support for the prime minister’s deal, do not believe that it is responsible to put the nation at risk by making that threat,’ he told parliament during Saturday’s three-hour debate. Oliver Letwin (pictured left in the Commons today) tabled the extraordinary amendment to block the PM’s crunch vote later. Former chancellor Ken Clarke (right) said he will back the deal when legislation comes before ParliamentThe Remain voter’s amendment withholds parliamentary approval of the Brexit deal until after legislation has been put on the statute book. It forces Boris Johnson to ask the EU to delay the UK’s departure beyond October 31.It would also robbed the Prime Minister of the chance to test the will of the House of Commons to see if a majority of MPs support his Brexit deal.Sir Oliver has insisted that the move is just about bolstering protections against a No Deal split from the EU. But his critics believe it is nothing less than a wrecking amendment designed to stop the UK leaving the EU. Educated at Eton and then Cambridge, the 63-year-old first entered politics as a member of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit in Number 10 in the 1980s. In the ‘Super Saturday’ showdown in the House of Commons today, Boris Johnson complained he was being prevented from forcing a ‘meaningful’ decision by Letwin amendmentHe was then first elected as the Tory MP for West Dorset in 1997 before making a rapid rise up the ranks, joining the opposition frontbench and eventually becoming shadow chancellor in 2003.He became a key figure in David Cameron’s administration, acting as the PM’s ‘fixer’, after he helped to draw up the Tories’ 2010 election manifesto. After being a constant in Mr Cameron’s governments, Sir Oliver was then ousted from the frontbench by Theresa May when she became PM in 2016. Sir Oliver is regarded as a ‘big brain’ in Whitehall circles and is viewed as a man who has a gift for creative thinking and problem solving. But he has over the years developed a reputation as a hapless politician who has been prone to gaffes and finding himself in embarrassing situations. He once unwittingly welcomed two burglars into his London home after they said they wanted to use the bathroom. He was also once spotted discarding parliamentary papers into a bin in St James’s Park. Before the 2001 election he and his local challengers dressed up in togas for a debate. In 2015 he apologised after it emerged he had blamed ‘bad moral attitudes’ in black inner-city communities for riots in the 1980s in a paper he had helped write. Outside of politics, Sir Oliver is married and has two children.   He is expected to stand down as an MP at the next election. Speaker John Bercow has emerged as a parliamentary bete noir of Brexiteers. He was elected as Tory MP for Buckingham in 1997 but has been the Speaker – and therefore an independent – since 2009.He has made a series of decisions that have infuriated Mr Johnson’s Government and that of Theresa may before him. He is due to stand down at the end of the month. Earlier this month he faced allegations of ‘plotting’ today after it emerged he met the EU parliament chief to discuss their ‘shared’ desire to avoid No Deal.David Sassoli revealed he held talks with Mr Bercow in London, telling MEPs they were on the ‘same wavelength’.Mr Sassoli said the pair agreed that the UK and EU Parliaments must have a key role in ‘managing’ the Brexit process.’We share an awareness that a chaotic exit of the UK from the EU would work to the detriment of citizens on both sides,’ he said.But the news sparked anger from Eurosceptics including Nigel Farage, who said it was a ‘disgrace’ that the president and the Speaker had ‘agreed to work to prevent a clean break Brexit’.’What right does the Speaker have to do this?’ he demanded.The Speaker is meant to be an impartial referee of debates, but Mr Bercow has repeatedly been ‘creative’ with the rules to frustrate the government – saying his duty was to champion MPs against the executive.Theresa May’s Brexit plans were thwarted partly as a result of his intervention, and last month a rebel law was passed ordering the PM to beg the EU for a Brexit extension if he has not secured a deal by October 19.Mr Bercow was also at the centre of protests against the PM’s decision to prorogue Parliament in the run-up to Brexit, saying it was ‘not normal’.At Tory conference last week, the current Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he admired many of the things the Speaker had done in his 10-year tenure.But he said Mr Bercow’s ‘recent mistakes’ had brought the public standing of the House to ‘the lowest point in modern history’.Allies of the PM have made clear he will not follow the convention that Commons Speakers are automatically elevated to the upper chamber when they resign.Mr Bercow dramatically announced last month that he will stand down from the chair and as an MP on October 31 – symbolically choosing Boris Johnson’s ‘do or die’ Brexit date.Six Labour MPs defy Jeremy Corbyn to vote with the government on crunch No Deal amendment – but they will not be kicked out of the party amid more Party chaos   Labour was plunged into fresh Brexit chaos this afternoon after half a dozen MPs sided with the government on a crunch No Deal vote in the House of Commons. A rebel amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin which will force Boris Johnson to ask the EU for a Brexit delay was agreed by 322 votes to 306, a majority of 16. Labour supported the move but six of the party’s MPs decided to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote with the government in a failed attempt to stop Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans being scuppered. Attention immediately turned to whether the rebels will now face disciplinary action. But MailOnline understands the six MPs – Sir Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Kate Hoey and John Mann – will receive a slap on the wrist from party whips and nothing more. Mr Corbyn had suggested last week that Labour MPs who backed the government on Brexit would not be expelled from the party. He said at the time that he believed ‘in the power of persuasion rather than the power of threat’. The Labour leader blasted Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal as a ‘sell-out’ as he squared off against the Prime minister in the Commons today Mr Johnson wanted MPs to vote on his proposed divorce deal but his plans were scuppered by a rebel amendment Mr Corbyn today labelled Mr Johnson’s new Brexit deal a ‘sell-out’ as he squared off against the PM in the Commons ahead of the vote on the Letwin amendment. Sir Oliver’s amendment means that the PM was unable to put his deal to a meaningful vote, triggering an anti-No Deal law called the Benn Act which requires Mr Johnson to now ask the EU for a Brexit delay beyond October 31. If Labour had not backed the amendment or if the party had abstained it would have been defeated.Mr Corbyn re-iterated his desire for a second referendum as he addressed the Commons. He said the proposed deal put forward by Mr Johnson would ‘be a disaster for working people’ because it would ‘hammer the economy, cost jobs and sell workers’ rights down the river’.He said: ‘Voting for a deal today won’t end Brexit. It won’t deliver certainty and the people should have the final say.’Labour is not prepared to sell-out the communities we represent. We are not prepared to sell out their future. And we will not back this sell-out deal.’Mr Johnson said Mr Corbyn was ‘wrong’ in his criticism of the draft accord as the PM said: ‘This government, this country will maintain the very highest standards and we will lead in environmental protection and social protection in Europe and across the world.’He added: ‘He talks about trust – this is a right honourable gentleman… who patently does not trust his own party, he doesn’t trust the shadow chancellor (John McDonnell).’Above all he has not been willing to trust the people of this country by granting them the right to adjudicate on him and his policies in a general election.’He won’t trust the people and he doesn’t trust the people by delivering on the result of their referendum in 2016.’I suggest in all humility and candour to the House that they should ignore the pleadings of (Mr Corbyn) and vote for an excellent deal that will take this country and take the whole of Europe forward.’ ‘Christmas at Chequers is cancelled’: The Prime Minister’s Remain-backing sister Rachel Johnson jokes about her arguments with Boris Johnson on Have I Got News For You Rachel Johnson admitted that being the Prime Minister’s sister meant ‘a world of pain’ in her appearance on the -’s Have I Got News For You.The avid Remainer, who has been critical of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, quickly objected to being introduced as the sibling to Boris Johnson.Ms Johnson said on the - show: ‘I like the way you introduce me as Boris Johnson’s sister as if that is actually my day job.’She joked with panelists that being the Prime Minister’s sister meant a ‘world of pain’. Host Victoria Coren Mitchell later asked Ms Johnson: ‘Does Boris ever phone you up and say ‘oh don’t say that it’s really embarrassing’ The broadcaster and journalist – who appeared on the popular programme with Paul Merton, Ross Noble, and Ian Hislop – quickly retorted: ‘Yup’Host Victoria Coren Mitchell later asked Ms Johnson: ‘Does Boris ever phone you up and say ‘oh don’t say that it’s really embarrassing.’The broadcaster and journalist – who appeared on the popular programme with Paul Merton, Ross Noble, and Ian Hislop – quickly retorted: ‘Yup’.She added that after she made the comment about No Deal Brexit only benefiting currency speculators that ‘it meant Christmas Chequers was canceled.’Ross Noble joked she could retort to her brother that ‘everything you do is embarassing, goodbye.’She then added ‘No, I’m under orders to not do any chat shows, not to say anything about the Prime Minister, this is my safe space’ to raucous laughter from the audience.In regular feature of the show, part of the show panelists were given a headline to complete that started ‘Queen set to earn £100 million from (blank space).’Ms Johnson said: ‘I know, suing the Prime Minister for illegal prorogation.’ Ms Johnson appeared on the popular - comedy news show on the same team as celebrated comedian Paul MertonThen she puts her hands to her face and exclaims: ‘Cut that bit! Christmas at Chequers is cancelled.’Mr Merton then retorts: ‘Well he may not be at Chequers at Christmas, you don’t know.’Boris Johnson’s sister quickly responds: ‘I hope he is.’ In a previous appearance on Sky News last month, Ms Johnson attacked her brother’s attempt to force through Brexit.She said:  ‘I think that what we are seeing is an executive that is so keen to deliver Brexit in any shape or form, to get the country out of the EU, to deliver up on that promised land, that they will do anything to justify that end’Asked what could be behind the strategy, she said: ‘It could be (senior aide) Dominic Cummings advising the Prime Minister to be extremely aggressive and to face down opposition from all sides of the establishment in order to secure his position as the - of the people.’It could be coming from my brother himself, he obviously thoroughly enjoys being Prime Minister.’It also could be from – who knows – people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit. We don’t know.’Ms Johnson is not the only family member to turn against the PM after his younger brother Jo revealed he was quitting as a minister and would stand down as the MP for Orpington at the next election.He said there had been an ‘unresolvable tension’ between ‘family loyalty and the national interest’.What happens if Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment is agreed by MPs? Boris Johnson would be forced to ask the EU for a divorce delay, face a race against time to pass a key Brexit law and have to wait to hold a final vote on his dealMPs are likely to support a rebel amendment this afternoon which will scupper Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan. The Prime Minister wants MPs to formally back his deal today but a proposal put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin is expected to ruin the premier’s hopes of making Brexit progress. The amendment has cross-party backing and will ultimately force the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit delay under the terms of the anti-No Deal law known as the Benn Act. If it is agreed, the amendment does not kill off Mr Johnson’s deal and it would still be possible for him to deliver Brexit by October 31. But the path to fulfilling his ‘do or die’ Halloween pledge will be fraught with difficulty and the chances of a Brexit delay will increase exponentially. Here is a breakdown of what is likely to happen if the amendment is passed by MPs. What does the Letwin amendment do? It would withhold support for the PM’s deal until such a time as the government has brought forward and passed the legislation needed to actually make an orderly Brexit happen. By failing to agree to a Brexit deal by close of play today, the provisions outlined in the Benn Act would be triggered and the PM would have to ask the EU to push back the current departure date.  The amendment would effectively postpone the ‘meaningful vote’ on the accord until the government has got its Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament.  Boris Johnson, pictured in the House of Commons today, is urging MPs to formally back his proposed Brexit deal But the PM’s hopes of making Brexit progress could be scuppered by an amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Lewtin which has cross-party supportThe thinking is that by withholding support for the deal until key Brexit legislation is in place, MPs will further protect against the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. Some Remainers are suspicious that if MPs back the PM’s deal today and there is no extension, Brexiteers who want a No Deal split could then scupper the passage of the laws needed to deliver an orderly exit, causing a bad break on Halloween.What will happen if the amendment does pass? The PM will have to comply with the Benn Act and send a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay. He would then likely bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Monday this week to try to crash it through Parliament as quickly as possible. If he was able to get MPs and peers to agree to the draft legislation in the coming days he would then be able to hold the ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal, paving the way for the UK to leave the EU on time. How likely is it that MPs and peers will agree to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?The Letwin amendment will effectively rob the PM of the chance to test whether there is a majority for his deal. That means that nobody will know for certain whether there is a majority in favour of the so-called WAB. Even if there is a majority it is likely to be a slim one which will make the passage of the legislation incredibly difficult as rebel MPs potentially try to amend and change it. Draft laws have been rushed through parliament in quick time before but whether something as divisive as the legislation to deliver Brexit could be dealt with equally as swiftly is unclear. What happens if the PM is able to get the Brexit law agreed and win a ‘meaningful vote’ before October 31? The UK could still leave the EU on the current timetable but the closer we get to Halloween the tougher that becomes and the chances of a delay increase. If the PM can get the deal signed off by MPs by the end of the coming week – a big if – his ‘do or die’ pledge could still be stuck to. But anything beyond that and time will get extremely tight because once MPs have agreed the deal it still has to go through the European Parliament. What is the EU likely to do? If the amendment is agreed and the PM sends the Brexit delay letter the EU will have to decide whether to offer an extension. The most likely scenario is that the bloc will keep its powder dry and not formally respond until it has seen whether the PM can win a vote in the Commons this coming week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. If he can, then Brussels will probably hold fire on offering an extension on the grounds that the UK could still agree to a deal and leave on time. If he cannot win a vote on the WAB this week and his deal looks dead then the bloc will face more pressure to make a final decision on any delay. It is thought in such circumstances the bloc would offer a postponement in order to stop a No Deal Brexit. That would pave the way for a general election potentially being held before the end of the year. Could there be an emergency EU summit? If the PM is able to make progress in the coming days and win a vote on the WAB but he is unable to get everything done by the end of the week there could then be an emergency summit held in Brussels on October 28. If the PM’s deal is still alive but more time is needed to get it through Parliament European leaders could agree to a short extension. 

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