If Parliament is prorogued from 11th September to 14th October, how much time is there to debate and pass a new Withdrawal Agreement Bill, say with a modified backstop?

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    I'm not sure that it's possible to answer this question. Parliament has shown that it can get a lot done in a short amount of time - but this usually requires a firm majority in favour of something. In this instance, even if a new WA were proposed, it's far from clear that it would have enough support to pass. And the EU have been very clear that renegotiation is highly unlikely. Aug 28 '19 at 13:37
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    To give a concrete example of "a short amount of time", the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019, a.k.a.the Cooper–Lewin Bill, was first introduced on the 3rd April 2019, and was enacted on the 8th April. Note that since this was effectively just an order to the Government to do something, it had close to the minimum number of hoops to jump through. It's also definitely not a good example of a clear majority. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_(Withdrawal)_Act_2019
    – origimbo
    Aug 28 '19 at 14:32
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    I think the plan is not to pass the Withdrawal Agreement at all, and just crash out. Some leaked information suggests that the government sees this as a way to "reset" the negotiation with the EU, as after the crash with no backstop in place they think the EU may find some other solution to the Irish border issue and can then remove the main barrier to the UK getting a deal. Of course that's just a fantasy, the EU won't do that.
    – user
    Aug 28 '19 at 16:13
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    Question has nothing to do with internal motivations of people. It's asking objectively 'would there be time to pass a new Withdrawal Agreement?'
    – Time4Tea
    Aug 31 '19 at 11:18

The leaked/open-mic comments of defence minister Ben Wallace clearly indicate that the Johnson government considers Parliament ineffective in Brexit matters, so intended to sideline it as much as possible.

Parliament has been very good at saying what it doesn't want. It has been awful at saying what it wants. That's the reality. So eventually any leader has to, you know, try.

For the record, the Johnson government has later disavowed Wallace on this, declaring that he "misspoke". Also, news as of Aug 29 are bi-weekly meetings between UK and EU Brexit negotiators, but that's about it:

After his chief negotiator, David Frost, met EU officials in Brussels on Wednesday, the prime minister said on Thursday that both sides had agreed to meet twice a week. [...]

According to a diplomatic note of Frost’s meeting in Brussels, seen by the Guardian, Frost downplayed Johnson’s suspension of parliament, describing it as normal. He told his interlocutors that Johnson wanted a deal but was not afraid of no deal.

The UK government appears to be seeking to convince the EU that it can bounce parliament into accepting any rewritten deal. Frost told EU officials that it would be possible to ratify a Brexit deal in the second half of October and argued that a technical extension would not be necessary. This strategy matches Johnson’s pledge to leave the EU on 31 October “do or die”.

EU diplomats remain sceptical that a solution to the thorny question of the Irish backstop can be devised in a mere 62 days.

If the Johnson government is somehow serious and does present a credible alternative to the backstop within 30 days, as demanded by Berlin and eventually echoed by Juncker, then Parliament might be given and opportunity to rubber stamp it. But a lot of observers consider this scenario implausible. The blame game is now really in full swing; neither side really wants to be seen as having completely closed down the negotiations and thus triggered the no-deal scenario.

The news as of 50 mins ago (as I'm writing this) is the EU (considers) it hasn't seen any "concrete proposals" from the UK.

It was mentioned on the BBC (live) a few minutes ago that if Boris Johnson forces a last minute deal at the EU Council (during the planned prorogation) then the parliament would have 6 working days to act/enact it (after the prorogation is over). I haven't double checked if this schedule makes sense. It was a commenter from "off" (not on screen) that made this remark, so I'm not sure who he was.


If some miraculous 11th-hour deal was to happen between the UK and EU to draft an alternative withdrawal agreement that both sides could/would agree to, then I am sure they would find a way to extend the Brexit deadline, so the new agreement could be passed by the UK Parliament. It seems that pretty much all it would take to have another extension is for Johnson's government to ask the EU and for them to say 'Yes'. They could probably have the required documents on standby in the negotiating chamber at 11pm on October 30th.

  • Given the current calendar, the EU council meeting on the 17-18th October has been talked up as the most likely point for such a decision, rather than anything later in the month.
    – origimbo
    Aug 30 '19 at 13:59
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    @origimbo I would expect what they say officially and what happens behind closed doors to be different things.
    – Time4Tea
    Aug 30 '19 at 23:54
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    One small problem is that to have another extension you need the unanimous consent of the European council (the ensemble of all heads of government or of state of the member countries). While a meeting can likely be arranged, some time to convince all them will probably be required, so it's not like Boris Johnson can ring them at 11pm on October 30th. Aug 31 '19 at 13:32
  • @user26632 I admit this is speculative, but if there was a serious prospect of a last-minute deal, I would think some sort of pre-approval from the European Council could probably be arranged.
    – Time4Tea
    Sep 3 '19 at 21:13

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