Andrea Leadsom has suggested the Easter recess for Parliament could be cancelled to ensure MPs are working “flat out” to deal with Brexit.
The Commons Leader said time will be needed to either “find a way forward” or pass the necessary legislation required to implement Theresa May’s Brexit deal should it be approved.
Mrs Leadsom said she would make further announcements about the recess dates, which prompted some MPs on the opposition benches to remark “recess is cancelled”.
The break is scheduled to take place from when the Commons rises on 4 April until 23 April. Recess in February was cancelled due to concerns over the lack of progress on Brexit, although a vote during that week suggested some 250 of the 650 MPs were not in attendance due to existing commitments.
When asked by the SNP’s Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) about Easter, Mrs Leadsom replied: “I have announced the dates for Easter recess but, as is always the case, recess dates are announced subject to the progress of business. We will need time in the House either to find a way forward or to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and I think the country will rightly expect Parliament to be working flat out in either scenario, so further announcements on future recess dates will be announced in due course in the usual way.”
Mrs Leadsom earlier confirmed that MPs would debate the statutory instrument to change the exit day of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU today.
She added that the Prime Minister was having ongoing discussions “so that we can, if possible this week, approve the deal and guarantee Brexit”.
On the indicative votes procedure to test, SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart called on Mrs Leadsom to confirm that whatever outcomes were agreed today “if there is a majority the Government will observe and respect it”.
Mrs Leadsom replied: “At this stage we don’t know which options will be debated and voted on, let alone which will pass.”
She added: “Any options that are passed by this House must be negotiable, so they have to be deliverable in negotiations with the EU and they would also have to take account of how long those negotiations would take.”
She said: “It would not be possible for different parties to accept proposals that their party manifestos rejected at the last general election.”