With just 10 days to go until the UK is due to leave the EU on October 31, UK PM Johnson's government planned to ask for a "straight up-and-down vote" on the EU divorce agreement.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks ahead of a vote on his renegotiated Brexit deal, on what was dubbed
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks ahead of a vote on his renegotiated Brexit deal, on what was dubbed "Super Saturday", in the House of Commons in London, Britain. October 19, 2019. (Reuters)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted for a second time to secure lawmakers' backing for his European Union divorce deal on Monday as Parliament geared up for a gruelling week of political warfare over Brexit.

With just 10 days to go until the UK is due to leave the bloc on October 31, Johnson's government planned to ask for a "straight up-and-down vote" on his EU divorce agreement, which changes how both sides handle the Irish border. That request comes two days after lawmakers voted to delay approving the Brexit deal.

But House of Commons Speaker John Bercow could refuse to allow such a vote because parliamentary rules generally bar the same measure from being considered a second time during the same session of Parliament unless something has changed.

New legislation 

Johnson's Conservative government will also introduce the legislation necessary to implement the Brexit agreement it struck with the EU last week, opening the door to potentially lengthy debates or amendments that could scuttle the deal.

With the Brexit deadline looming and British politicians still squabbling over the country's departure terms from the bloc, Johnson has been forced to ask the EU for a three-month delay to the departure date.

He did that, grudgingly, to comply with a law passed by Parliament ordering the government to postpone Brexit rather than risk the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit.

But Johnson accompanied the letter to the EU, sent late on Saturday, with a second note saying that he personally opposed delaying the UK's October 31 exit.

EU's response

European Council President Donald Tusk said he would consult EU leaders on how to respond to the request. The other 27 EU members are wary of the long-running Brexit saga, but also want to avoid a no-deal British exit, which would damage economies on both sides of the Channel.

Germany's economy minister suggested it could be a few days before the EU decided to respond to the Brexit delay request.

"We will have somewhat more clarity in the coming days, and we will then exercise our responsibility and quickly make a decision," Germany's Peter Altmaier said.

He told Deutschlandfunk radio that he wouldn't have a problem with an extension by "a few days or a few weeks" if that rules out a no-deal Brexit.

But French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a phone call with Johnson over the weekend, called for a quick clarification of the UK's position. 

In a statement, he said a delay "would not be in any party's interest."

France's junior minister for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told French news broadcaster BFM TV there would have to be a reason for the delay, like a parliamentary election in Britain or a new British referendum on Brexit.

The British government still hopes it can pass the needed Brexit legislation by the end of the month so the UK can leave on time.

But it suffered a setback on Saturday — Parliament's first weekend sitting since the Falklands War of 1982 — when British lawmakers voted to make support for the Brexit deal conditional on passage of the legislation to implement it, something that could take several days or weeks.

That also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinise — and possibly change— the Brexit departure terms while the bill is still in Parliament.

There is still a risk that Britain leaves the European Union without a deal at the end of October, Brexit minister Steve Barclay said on Monday.

"The risk of a no-deal remains," Barclay told a parliamentary committee. "The EU 27 may not agree an extension and the house (parliament) has not to date agreed to a deal, and so that risk remains pertinent and it is important we prepare for it."

Scottish court relays Boris ruling

Scotland's top court has delayed a ruling on whether Johnson has fully obeyed a law which demanded he request a delay to Brexit.

Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that the case should continue until the government's obligations under the law have been complied with "in full."

The so-called Benn Act compelled Johnson to write a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit extension if parliament had not approved either a deal or a no-deal exit by Saturday. 

"I am delighted with the Court's decision. It is a pity to have to say it, but this is not a Prime Minister who can be trusted to comply with the law," Jolyon Maugham, a lawyer involved in the case, said on Twitter.

"And because he cannot be trusted he must be supervised."

The Benn Act also states that Britain's government must accept any delay to Brexit that is offered. Brexit is currently due to take place on October 31.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies