BRITAIN’S House of Lords has approved the recent bill passed by the House of Commons compelling prime minister Boris Johnson to extend Brexit until January 31 by asking the European Union (EU) for a three month extension of his plans to leave the community.
Upon assuming office on July 24 this year, Mr Johnson promised to end the Brexit impasse by leaving the EU on October with or without a deal. With his predecessor Theresa May’s deal rejected three times by the House of Commons, the only realistic option Mr Johnson had was to leave the EU with no deal.
However, a coalition of MPs from all parties rejected this, pointing to the untold damage not having a deal will have on the UK economy. On Wednesday a majority of MPs voted in favour of a bill to extend Brexit and then also rebuffed a proposal from the prime minister to call for a snap election that would have enabled him to dissolve parliament and push his agenda through.
Today, the House of Lords approved this bill that will now require Mr Johnson to ask Brussels for an Article 50 extension. Under the terms of the European Union Withdrawal Number Six Bill, the prime minister will be required to delay Brexit unless a divorce deal is approved or if Parliament agrees to a no-deal Brexit by October 19.
It sailed through its final stages in the Lords without any amendments being made and is now expected to receive royal assent on Monday to become law. This is despite spirited attempts by the government to delay the bill by adding about 90 amendments to it in the hope that the debates would drag on way beyond October 31.
Closing the debate in the Lords, Brexit minister Lord Callanan said the bill brought delay and uncertainty and undermined the government’s efforts to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. However, despite the defeat, he assured peers the legislation would be presented to the queen for royal assent.
Lord Callanan said: ‘This bill is about seriously undermining negotiations that could achieve a deal before October 31, frustrating the referendum result and stopping Brexit.”
An amendment by Conservative peer Lord True to prevent the legislation coming into force until a general election is held this year was rejected by 283 votes to 28. Earlier peers rejected by 268 to 47 a bid to remove an amendment included in the Commons, paving the way for MPs to debate Theresa May’s final Brexit deal during an extension of EU membership into January.