MPs are preparing to vote on Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the Commons, after the Prime Minister urged them to support the deal.
Two crucial votes will determine whether the PM will be able to live up to his “do or die” commitment to take the UK out of the European Union by October 31.
Members will cast their initial vote on Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, before being asked to back his accelerated timetable to hurry the legislation through Parliament.
The PM earlier warned MPs he will pull his Brexit deal and call for an early general election if they do not back his plans.
Here’s the latest from Westminster:
Tory MP Sir Roger Gale, of North Thanet, raised concerns about the “plight” of UK citizens living in the EU, their pension rights and healthcare.
He said he had received “harrowing” emails from individuals around Europe expressing their fears about what they might face.
Reading the Bill he said: “Scour as I could, I found not one word of comfort for UK citizens living abroad in Europe.”
Sir Roger revealed he had spoken this afternoon with the Prime Minister, adding: “I’m pleased to say that he has taken this on board immediately and courteously and I am assured that the rights and the concerns of UK citizens will be taken into account and that a confirmatory letter to that effect will be with me in the next couple of days.”
Labour’s chief whip Nicholas Brown offered an olive branch to Boris Johnson by telling him he was “available at any point to seek a consensus with you on a programme motion that would command the support of all sides of the House”.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he added: “No parliamentarian seeking to properly scrutinise and improve such a vital piece of legislation could agree to support the Government’s proposed programme motion.”
Justine Greening, another former Conservative minister sitting as an Independent, expressed “deep concerns” over the Bill before saying: “It’s entirely unacceptable to ram this through in two days.
“It simply stores up problems for our United Kingdom in the future doing it in this way.”
Former Conservative minister Rory Stewart, now sitting as an Independent, said: “My big beg for this House is let’s please in these very, very final stages do it properly.”
Mr Stewart, who voted Remain at the 2016 referendum and backed Theresa May’s deal, noted: “I literally have nothing to gain from backing this Brexit – I am backing it for one reason only, which is people voted for it and I promised to respect the result of that vote.”
He said the Bill was a “hell of a big document” and two-and-a-half days was not enough time to scrutinise it.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s spokesman on Brexit, warned the party is “in a position where we cannot support this Bill”. He said he is concerned Northern Ireland will not leave on the same terms as the rest of the UK, and will become a “semi detached” part of the UK.
He said: “I nearly choked when the Prime Minister said it, when he told us, well, don’t worry about it because all of these chances which will affect Northern Ireland will be light touch.
“There’s not really a boundary down the Irish Sea, they’re just light touch regulations. Light touch regulations which require firms to make declarations when they sell goods in another part of their own country.”
Independent MP Nick Boles accused Downing Street of “bluffing” ahead of the vote.
While the DUP’s Sammy Wilson said he had lost respect for the PM.
The Prime Minister has lost my respect. Instead of owning his decision to capitulate on Northern Ireland to get his deal through in a hurry, he is implying that none of us can read the detail. It creates a border in the Irish Sea and the @duponline will not support it. pic.twitter.com/2Now8POJD3
— Sammy Wilson MP (@eastantrimmp) October 22, 2019
Boris Johnson said he would call for an early general election if MPs did not support his Bill – here are some potential timings.
Watch: Boris Johnson says he will pull Brexit deal if MPs don’t back his plans