Brexit buzz: are MPs preparing to vote on a UK-EU trade deal next week?
Commons may sit on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day to ratify an agreement
MPs are being readied to vote on a possible Brexit trade deal at the beginning of next week, according to senior government sources.
The Telegraph reports that amid renewed hopes of a breakthrough in Brussels, Boris Johnson is planning to “push back the Christmas recess” if he ties up an agreement with the EU by this weekend.
The Conservative leader in the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is said to be overseeing preparations for MPs and peers to sit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And while ministers have ruled out asking MPs to spend Christmas Day in Parliament, they may be required to sit on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.
Both EU and UK officials have warned that time is running out to push through an agreement, but Rees-Mogg “has suggested that Parliament could ratify any Brexit deal in as little as 24 hours”, says The Times.
The arch-Brexiteer told a podcast for the Conservative Home website that “Parliament can act very quickly when necessary”, pointing to the Abdication Act of 1936 - passed in one day to recognise that Edward VIII was handing succession to his brother, George VI.
Speculation that a deal is on the verge of being struck rose further this morning when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered what The Independent describes as her “most optimistic assessment of negotiations yet”.
Von der Leyen told MEPs that there was now a “path to an agreement” in the negotiations, with a “way forward” being found on most of the outstanding issues.
Downing Street continues to strike a more downbeat tone, however.
Johnson told the cabinet yesterday that he wants a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU but not “at any cost”.
His official spokesperson confirmed at a Westminster briefing that “the prime minister made clear that not being able to reach an agreement and ending the transition period on Australian-style terms remained the most likely outcome”.