Johnson threatens to pull Brexit bill and call for election

The prime minister has told MPs that he will pull his Brexit bill and move to hold an early general election if he loses a key vote later.

Speaking in the Commons, Boris Johnson said he would call for a snap poll if the Commons rejects the proposed timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).

This is the legislation which – if passed – would enshrine his Brexit deal with the EU into law.

Delivering his warning to MPs, Mr Johnson said: “I will in no way allow months more of this.

“If parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen, and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this.

“And with great regret, I must say that the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”

Mr Johnson will need to get a two-thirds majority in the Commons for an early poll in order for one to take place.

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The government wants to rush the legislation through the Commons in three days, as time runs out ahead of the current Brexit deadline of 31 October.

But the prime minister faces two crucial votes on Tuesday that could prevent him from delivering on his pledge to take Britain out of the EU on that date “do or die”.

Firstly the bill will be voted on by MPs at its second reading, its first hurdle in the process of becoming law.

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The second – and most crucial vote – is on the programme motion, the timetable for passing the legislation.

Opening the debate on the WAB, Mr Johnson urged MPs to back the bill and “move our country” on.

The PM claimed that if they did so, the process of healing over Brexit could begin.

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“If we pass this bill tonight we will have the opportunity to address the priorities not just of our relations with the EU, but the people’s priorities at home,” he said.

“If we do this deal, if we pass this deal and the legislation that enables it, we can turn the page and allow this country and this parliament to begin to heal and unite.”

Many MPs are unhappy at being given so little time for detailed scrutiny of such a consequential bill, which runs to 110 pages with another 124 pages of explanatory notes.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the bill was “page after page of what amounts to nothing less than a charter for deregulation and a race to the bottom”.

He added: “A deal and a bill that fails to protect our rights and our natural world, fails to protect jobs and the economy, fails to protect every region and nation in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Corbyn said Labour would not be supporting the bill at its second reading.

“They always say, Mr Speaker, the devil is in the detail. And, having seen the detail, it confirms everything we thought about this rotten deal,” he said.

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