The Latest: British govt wins key vote, needs to win another

LONDON — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

British lawmakers have approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in principle, but he still faces a battle to steer it through Parliament in time for the U.K. to leave the European Union on schedule on Oct. 31.

The House of Commons voted 329-299 to send the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill on for further scrutiny and possible amendments.

The government wants the Commons to approve the bill by Thursday, sending it on to Parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords. The aim is to make it law before Oct. 31 so that Britain can leave the EU on time.

But first lawmakers must approve the fast-tracked timetable. They are due to vote on that later Tuesday.

If they demand more time to scrutinize the bill, it will be almost impossible for Britain to leave the EU at the end of the month — something Johnson has long promised will happen.


5:30 p.m.

France’s foreign minister says he sees “no justification” at this stage for a further delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union, and is pushing for quick decisions from London on how it intends to proceed.

Jean-Yves Le Drian told French lawmakers Tuesday the British “must tell us today, as fast as possible, if it’s yes or if it’s no” — an apparent reference to the new Brexit deal between the EU and London struck last week.

He added that “it’s important that this decision is announced today because if not there will be no implementation except a no-deal one, which is not the solution that we prefer.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was headed for a showdown Tuesday with lawmakers who want to put the brakes on his drive to push his EU divorce bill through the House of Commons in just three days and take Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31.


2:35 p.m.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that if lawmakers reject his accelerated three-day timetable for Brexit bill he will pull it and seek an election.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Johnson told lawmakers that if they rejected the timetable, “the bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”

British lawmakers from across the political spectrum had been plotting Tuesday to put the brakes on Johnson’s drive to push his European Union divorce bill through the House of Commons in just three days, potentially scuttling the government’s hopes of delivering Brexit by Oct. 31.


11 a.m.

Slovenia’s foreign minister says Brexit showed European Union’s unity as it stood by a small member state, Ireland, but failed in the Balkans when it couldn’t agree to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

Miro Cerar said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that “there are some positive effects on the part of the European Union regarding Brexit because we in a way upheld our unity during this process. We showed that we are able to stand behind a small state, Ireland, to protect its interests.”

But Cerar warned that EU’s weekend decision not to open membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania sends a negative signal to the volatile Western Balkans.

He said that “I believe that this postponement or no decision was indeed a historic mistake.”

Slovenia became an EU member in 2004.


9 a.m.

European Council President Donald Tusk says European Union leaders “will decide in coming days” whether to grant Britain another extension to the deadline for leaving the bloc, but he says their decision depends on developments in London.

Tusk said Tuesday that the decision on prolonging Brexit for three months after Oct. 31 “will very much depend on what the British parliament decides or doesn’t decide.”

Britain faces another week of political gridlock after British lawmakers on Monday denied Prime Minister Boris Johnson a chance to hold a vote on the Brexit divorce bill agreed in Brussels last week.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker lamented all the work spent on Brexit rather than on EU policy, calling it a “waste of time and waste of energy.”


8:50 a.m.

British lawmakers from across the political spectrum are expected to challenge Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s drive to push his European Union divorce bill through the House of Commons by Thursday, potentially scuttling plans to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31.

The bill faces two votes Tuesday, with lawmakers first being asked to approve it in principle, followed by a vote on the government’s schedule for debate and possible amendments.

While many analysts expect the bill to be approved, lawmakers may reject the three-day timetable because of concerns it doesn’t provide enough time for scrutiny.

Ken Clarke, a long-time lawmaker from Johnson’s Conservative Party, says “unless you are prepared to contemplate more expansive debate, there is not the slightest possibility of considering the deal that has been obtained within the time available.”


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The Associated Press