What could happen next in the Brexit saga?

Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
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It was billed as “Super Saturday” as the Commons held a weekend sitting for the first time in 37 years, but things did not go the way Prime Minister Boris Johnson had planned.

What happened in Parliament?

MPs voted by a majority of 16 to back an amendment put forward by former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin to withhold approval of the deal agreed between Mr Johnson and Brussels “unless and until implementing legislation is passed”.

Sir Oliver, who lost the Tory whip for voting against the Government on Brexit previously, said the amendment was “insurance” against the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal by mistake on the scheduled deadline of October 31.

How did the Government react?

The Prime Minister decided not to have a so-called “meaningful vote” on his deal in light of the amendment.

The Government is set to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to the Commons early next week.

That is the legislation needed for Brexit and a “meaningful vote” could be held on Monday if Speaker John Bercow allows it.

- Could Mr Johnson still get his deal through Parliament?

Yes, but time is running out ahead of the October 31 deadline as the European Parliament would also need to ratify it.

Without a meaningful vote, support for the agreement has not yet been tested.

Though the PM has attracted support from a number of prominent Brexiteer Tories, the DUP is strongly opposed to the deal.

Read more: Brexit deal vote: Boris Johnson pleads with MPs not to render vote ‘meaningless’

What happens now?

Under the terms of the so-called Benn Act, which was passed against the PM’s wishes, Mr Johnson must write to the EU asking for a three-month Brexit extension if he has not secured a deal by 11pm UK time on October 19.

Will he do so?

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so.”

And Downing Street refused to clarify the situation.

However, a spokesman for the PM said that “governments comply with the law”.

How would Remainers react if the PM fails to send such a letter?

Campaigners would likely mount a legal challenge which could see a potential Supreme Court hearing within days.

Would the EU agree to an extension?

Despite European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker raising doubts over another Brexit delay, the decision needs to be taken by all 27 remaining EU states, not him.

However, the EU could set a different length to an extension, either shorter or longer than the three-month one cited in the Benn Act.

The EU could decide not to formally respond to such a letter from the PM until it sees if Mr Johnson can get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament next week.

Will there be an emergency EU summit?

If the PM gets the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through, there could be a special gathering of leaders on October 28. If the deal needs more time at the stage to get through Parliament, leaders could agree to a short extension.

Read more: Boris Johnson defiant over delay as MPs ‘void’ Brexit deal vote

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