Monday 21 October 2019 11:58 am

Government warns any changes to Brexit bill may risk ratification

The government has warned MPs that any changes to its forthcoming Brexit bill may risk ratification, as it seeks to press ahead with leaving the EU by Hallowe’en.

The Brexit bill, formally known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, is due to be published later today ahead of a second reading in the Commons tomorrow. It is hoped that it will be passed before the weekend, allowing the Lords time to debate and vote on it ahead of next Thursday’s deadline.

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But critics and opposition MPs are thought to be readying amendments that could further jeopardise the Prime Minister’s plans.

It is widely expected that amendments could be brought forward that would make the deal subject to a second referendum, or keep the UK within the EU’s customs union.

This morning the government’s spokesman warned that in either case that could risk the whole process being overturned.

“If legilslation steps too far away from the original agreement and political declaration, that does bring into question ratification,” he said.

“The point of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is to put into UK law what was agreed at an international level.”

He stressed that these amendments “currently don’t exist” and have not commanded support within the Commons in the past. He declined to comment on whether the government would view them as a wrecking amendment, designed to prevent the Brexit process.

However that is how the Letwin amendment, which ground Super Saturday to a halt, is being viewed. The spokesman said: “The only vote on Saturday was one to essentially delay Brexit. In terms of the parliamentary approach for the Prime Minister’s deal, the vote on Saturday was meaningless.”

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The government is still hoping to bring forward another meaningful vote on Boris Johnson’s today.

However it is expected that speaker John Bercow will select at least one amendment. If the government considers that this will also “render it meaningless” the vote will be pulled, the spokesman confirmed.

Main image: Getty