MPs will be asked to vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal this week as the government begins its push to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will be brought before the commons on Friday – and could be debated at first and second reading in one day, if the Speaker agrees to the timetable.
Boris Johnson said during the general election campaign that he would kick-start the process of exiting the EU before families tuck into their turkeys on Christmas Day if he was re-elected.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson told a Westminster briefing: “We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the Speaker.”
Asked if the legislation would be identical to that introduced in the last parliament, the spokesperson said: “You will have to wait for it to be published but it will reflect the agreement that we made with the EU on our withdrawal.”
The government would attempt to push the WAB through its final commons stages in January, and will hope the Bill then clears the Lords quickly to allow the UK to leave the EU on 31 January.
However, approving the legislation will not mean the Brexit saga is over. The UK will remain in the EU until at least the end of 2020 during the implementation period.
This time will be used by Brussels and London to hammer out a trade deal and decide on their future relationship on subjects such as security.
But EU figures have been highly sceptical this can be sorted within the year, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying the timetable was “unrealistic” in leaked comments.
Johnson will undertake a minor government reshuffle later on Monday to fill gaps left by departures before making more radical changes in February.
The posts of culture secretary, Welsh secretary and environment minister are expected to be filled.
Johnson was due to address his new intake of Tory MPs arriving in Westminster on Monday.
Ahead of the private speech, a Number 10 source said: “This election and the new generation of MPs that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better.
“The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public’s trust by getting Brexit done.
“That’s why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.”
The Queen will formally open parliament on Thursday when she sets out the government’s legislative programme during a slimmed-down state opening.
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