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Race to the wire as John Bercow blocks vote on Boris deal

Refusal: John Bercow
defended his decision

BORIS JOHNSON faces a race against time to meet his October 31 Brexit deadline after speaker John Bercow threw out his bid for a second vote on the deal.

The prime minister will now have to steer the full Brexit withdrawal agreement bill through the Commons this week to meet his ‘do or die’ target.

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg gave MPs until Thursday night to scrutinise and approve the 110-page bill, which was only published last night.

But MPs could push the debate past Halloween if they succeed in seizing control of the timetable today.

‘At every stage the government has been running scared of this House,’ said Labour’s Valerie Vaz.

‘It’s now attempting to force through a flawed Brexit deal which sells out people’s jobs, rights and our communities.’

The speaker’s decision infuriated Brexiteers and leaves the deal vulnerable to opposition amendments in favour of a second referendum and a customs union.

MPs voted to delay approving Brexit on Saturday and Mr Bercow told them they should not be ‘brow-beaten, harassed or intimidated’ by the government.

Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin said MPs were launching an investigation into Mr Bercow’s neutrality.

He added: ‘It is becoming remarkable how often you please one lot and not the other lot.’

But Mr Bercow countered: ‘I haven’t got off the top of my head a countof the times I have granted urgent questions and emergency debates to Brexiteers, the honourable gentleman among them.

‘When he was getting the decisions in his favour he wasn’t grumbling.

‘If the government have got the numbers the government can have their way.’

No.10 said the speaker’s ruling would not stop the prime minister hitting his target and they would go ahead with introducing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

‘We are disappointed that the speaker has yet again denied us a chance to deliver on the will of British people,’ a spokesman said.

‘The public want Brexit done.’

But Labour has warned the proposed legislation faces ‘dozens’ of amendments and pledged to back a bid for a second referendum.

Downing Street hinted it would withdraw the bill and try to force a general election if opponents succeeded in passing amendments.

The government faces a series of knife-edge votes on the bill this afternoon when it comes before MPs.

Meanwhile, the EU is waiting to see what MPs do before deciding whether to grant the Brexit delay Mr Johnson was forced to ask for on Saturday.

‘It is now up to the UK parliament to make their choice,’ Guy Verhofstadt of the EU’s Brexit steering group tweeted.

JUDGES at Scotland’s highest civil court are waiting to see if Boris Johnson fully complies with the Benn Act in seeking a Brexit extension before deciding whether he has broken the law. At the hearing before the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, it was accepted Mr Johnson had observed part of the legislation by sending the request letter to the EU, despite not signing it and sending another letter saying a delay would be a mistake.