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Britain’s Parliament to vote on Boris Johnson’s EU exit deal

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Brexit may cause a smoldering conflict to flare up especially if there are renewed customs and passport controls along the now-invisible border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the European Union. (Oct. 16)
AP, AP

LONDON – British lawmakers are set to vote Saturday on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new withdrawal deal with the European Union, an important moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate and one that could have far-reaching consequences for Brexit, for Johnson and for the trajectory of the country. 

Johnson does not command an absolute majority in Britain’s 650-seat Parliament and the vote is expected to be extremely close. It is the first time that Parliament has sat on a Saturday in nearly 40 years, and only the fourth time it’s done so since World War II. 

Britain’s media have dubbed the vote “Super Saturday.” 

At stake is whether Britain’s fractious Parliament will approve a long-delayed exit deal Johnson negotiated with the EU that will enable Britain’s orderly departure from the bloc on Oct. 31, a deadline Johnson has repeatedly vowed to honor. Opposition parties and a key parliamentary party in Northern Ireland are expected to vote against the agreement. 

Lawmakers will spend the day debating the proposed deal. There is no set time yet for the vote, which rebels may try to frustrate or restrict in various ways through amendments, but it’s likely to come in the late afternoon local time (mid-morning ET).

Ahead of the vote, Johnson urged lawmakers to “come together” for the country’s sake.

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If Johnson wins the vote, he will immediately claim victory over a Brexit process that led to the resignation of his two predecessors (David Cameron and Theresa May); bitterly divided British households; and caused deep anxiety among the nation’s business community, as well as among millions of EU nationals living in Britain and Britons living in EU nations on the continent. Johnson will go down in history as the British leader who delivered Brexit. Britain would leave the EU in an orderly fashion on Halloween. 

If lawmakers reject the deal, the impact is harder to predict. Johnson will face the humiliation of Brexit unraveling after repeatedly promising that he would get it done by Oct 31. Earlier this year, Parliament passed legislation that compels the prime minister to ask the EU for a Brexit extension to avert a “no-deal” Brexit – a scenario where Britain crashes out of the EU without a formal withdrawal agreement, potentially causing chaos on its borders and shortages of fresh foods and essential medicines. 

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Johnson could be forced out of office if the deal is not approved. He could resign. An election might be triggered. Opposition parties might try to launch a revolt that ties approval of the new deal to a fresh national referendum on Brexit and the deal’s specific terms, delaying the moment of truth. Meanwhile, the EU has not committed to granting another extension, even as it wants to avoid a “no-deal” Brexit because the EU’s economy, security arrangements and other key infrastructure are linked to Britain’s. 

The fate of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is also to an extent potentially tied to the outcome of the vote. 

Scotland’s top government official Nicola Sturgeon, who strongly opposes Brexit, told the Scottish National Party’s annual conference this week that the UK’s central government in London has “shattered the case for the union.” A 2014 Scottish independence vote failed to pass but polls show support been rising as a result of Brexit and the Institute of Government, a think tank, published a report that concluded that a “no-deal” Brexit could bring the 300-year-old union to “breaking point.”

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/10/19/brexit-britains-parliament-vote-boris-johnsons-eu-withdrawal-deal/4021403002/


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