European Parliament won’t vote on Brexit before UK MPs

It looks likely a special session will be needed later in Brussels to vote on Brexit. — Reuters pic
It looks likely a special session will be needed later in Brussels to vote on Brexit. — Reuters pic

STRASBOURG, Oct 21 — The European Parliament will not vote to ratify the new Brexit withdrawal deal until the British legislative chamber has done so, officials said today.

This would mean it is unlikely that MEPs will back the deal this week while the European Parliament sits in Strasbourg and they will need to hold a special session later in Brussels.

If a vote is needed before October 31, currently scheduled to be Brexit day, this would mean meeting next week. But members insisted a session could be arranged quickly in any case.

Spokesman Jaume Duch said speaker David Sassoli would meet party leaders later today to formalise this, but that the decision was clear.

“It’s not the (European) Parliament which is going to break, or try to slow or to speed a process which is in the hands of the British institutions right now,” Duch said.

“Parliament will be the last in ratifying. The EP will only ratify once the ratification process has been completed in the UK,” he told reporters.

The head of the parliament’s Brexit steering committee, Guy Verhofstadt, confirmed this would also be the cross-party advice to the party leaders.

“We agreed to advise the Conference of Presidents (the party leaders) to await the full ratification on the UK side before the European Parliament votes on the deal,” he said. 

“It’s now up to the UK Parliament to make their choice,” he said.

The European Parliament had pencilled in Thursday to approve the agreement struck between Britain and the EU executive at a Brussels summit last week.

But some British MPs are resisting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to ratify the deal quickly, and there will be no vote in Westminster before tomorrow. — AFP

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