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Lawmakers Try to Stop Brexit           10/22 06:07

   British lawmakers from across the political spectrum were plotting Tuesday 
to put the brakes on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's drive to push his European 
Union divorce bill through the House of Commons in just three days, potentially 
scuttling the government's hopes of delivering Brexit by Oct. 31.

   LONDON (AP) -- British lawmakers from across the political spectrum were 
plotting Tuesday to put the brakes on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's drive to 
push his European Union divorce bill through the House of Commons in just three 
days, potentially scuttling the government's hopes of delivering Brexit by Oct. 
31.

   The bill faces two votes Tuesday, with lawmakers first being asked to 
approve it in principle, followed by a vote on the government's schedule for 
debate and possible amendments.

   While many analysts expect the bill to be approved, lawmakers may reject the 
three-day timetable because of concerns it doesn't provide enough time for 
scrutiny of the 115-page document, which sets out the terms of Britain's 
departure from the 28-nation bloc.

   Major bills usually take weeks or months to pass through Parliament, giving 
time for line-by-line scrutiny by lawmakers.

   Green lawmaker Caroline Lucas tweeted that lawmakers "had more time to 
debate the Wild Animals in Circuses Act (affecting 19 animals) than they will 
to decide the future of 65 million people. It's hard to think of anything which 
better illustrates this Govt's contempt for people, Parliament & democracy."

   Ominously for the government, some lawmakers who support the Brexit deal 
said they would vote against the short timetable.

   "Unless you are prepared to contemplate more expansive debate, there is not 
the slightest possibility of considering the deal that has been obtained within 
the time available," Ken Clarke, a senior lawmaker recently ousted from 
Johnson's Conservative Party group in Parliament, told the Guardian newspaper.

   The showdown comes just nine days before Britain's scheduled departure date. 
Johnson's government had sought a "straight up-and-down vote" Monday on the 
agreement he struck last week with the 27 other EU nations laying out the terms 
of Britain's exit.

   But the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, refused to allow it 
because lawmakers voted to delay approving the Brexit deal on Saturday, and 
parliamentary rules bar the same measure from being considered a second time 
during a session of Parliament unless something has changed.

   Bercow's ruling plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly 
familiar territory: acrimonious uncertainty.

   Johnson's only hope of securing Britain's Oct. 31 departure, as he has long 
promised, is to pass the Brexit-implementing bill through Britain's fractious 
Parliament before then.

   Johnson's Conservatives hold just 288 of the 650 House of Common seats, so 
he will need support form opposition and independent lawmakers to pass the bill.

   Opposition lawmakers plan to seek amendments that could substantially alter 
the bill, for example by adding a requirement that the Brexit deal be put to 
voters in a new referendum. The government says such an amendment would wreck 
its legislation and it will withdraw the bill if the opposition plan succeeds.

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

   European Council President Donald Tusk said Tuesday that EU leaders "will 
decide in coming days" whether to grant Britain another extension to the 
deadline for leaving the bloc, but said their decision depends on developments 
in London.

   Tusk said Tuesday that the decision on prolonging Brexit for three months 
after Oct. 31. "will very much depend on what the British parliament decides or 
doesn't decide."


(KR)

 
 
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