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As Gove says SNP want No Deal...

Johnson aims to push Brexit bill through in three days

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The PM is preparing to lower the EU flag

Boris Johnson will attempt to rush through his Brexit bill this week in just three days, prompting opposition MPs to claim that they do not have enough time to scrutinise it.

The Prime Minister published his 110-page Withdrawal Bill which will be introduced to the Commons on Tuesday morning.

Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg said ministers were aiming to get it through all its Commons stages by Thursday, leaving the House of Lords to sit over the weekend in time for the Bill to receive its royal assent at the beginning of next week.

Under the Bill there would be a one year transition period to negotiate a new trade deal between the UK and the European Union.

If no agreement is reached, the UK would default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Mr Johnson reckons that it is possible for the UK and the EU to negotiate a trade agreement by the end of 2020 and Pascal Lamy, former director general of the WTO agrees.

“It is true that ordinary trade deals take roughly four to five years to negotiate but an EU-UK trade deal would not be an ordinary one because ordinary trade deals are about reducing obstacles to trade to get to more open trade,” he said.

He added that it will probably be easier because “we start from open trade between the UK and the EU with zero tariffs and the same regulations.”

Opposition MPs will try to scupper the planned timetable with Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, saying: “Ministers are trying to bounce MPs into signing off a bill that could cause huge damage to our country. We can’t trust this prime minister.”

Labour is planning to amend the bill to secure a customs union and a second referendum.

The government is opposed to a customs union and second referendum, and warned that it could lead to Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The bill was published after Commons speaker John Bercow rejected a bid by ministers for a fresh meaningful vote on Mr Johnson’s agreement struck last week with Brussels.

Earlier, Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, speaking to a Scottish parliament committee, hinted that he believed the SNP was refusing to back the deal because it saw No Deal as helping it achieve its objectives.

Addressing the Finance and Constitution Committee by video link, Mr Gove responded to a question from Tory MSP Adam Tomkins, who asked: “Given that this deal provides for so many things that the SNP has rightly demanded, do you understand why the SNP continue to vote against it? Is it because they want a no-deal Brexit?”

Michael Gove: speaking to MSPs hinted that the SNP really would like No Deal

Mr Gove suggested the SNP’s voting was driven by party political motivations. He said: “The failure of SNP MPs in the House of Commons to vote for this deal so far would allow a lot of people to draw the same conclusions as you have Professor Tomkins, yes.”

Mr Gove was also repeatedly asked by SNP MSPs why Scotland was being denied a voice while Northern Ireland was being offered special benefits. He was also challenged on whether the UK government had presented Scotland’s appeal for the UK to remain in the Customs union and single market to the EU negotiators.

He said Northern Ireland had unique circumstances – a point accepted by his challengers – and while the demands of Scotland had been taken into account, the negotiation was a UK matter, he said.

Convener Bruce Crawford said: “That’s another way of saying Scotland has been ignored.”

See also

Comment: A Brexit breakthrough would be bad news for the dread-filled SNP



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