Brexit hangs in the balance as PM Johnson faces crunch votes in parliament
By Andrew MacAskill and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces two pivotal Brexit votes in the British parliament on Tuesday that will decide if he can deliver on his pledge to lead the United Kingdom out of the European Union in just nine days time.
As the clock ticks down to the latest Oct. 31 deadline for the United Kingdom's departure, Brexit is hanging in the balance as a divided parliament debates when, how and even whether it should happen.
After he was forced by opponents into the humiliation of asking the EU for a delay that he had promised he would never ask for, Johnson is battling to ram legislation through the House of Commons that will enact his last-minute Brexit deal.
In yet another day of high Brexit drama, lawmakers vote around 1800 GMT on the 115-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill and then vote on the government's extremely tight timetable for approving the legislation.
"I hope parliament today votes to take back control for itself," said Johnson, the face of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU.
"The public doesn't want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I. Let's get Brexit done on 31 October and move on."
Defeat in either vote would scupper Johnson's plans to leave the EU - "do of die" - on Oct. 31. He would then have to decide whether to abide by a law that demands he accept any Brexit delay offered by the EU or somehow leave without a divorce deal.
Victory, while an imperfect indicator of possible support, would simply open up another opportunity for opponents to ambush the government with amendments that could wreck the Johnson's plans.
Under the government's current plans, the legislation would be rushed through the House of Commons in just three days.
Previous bills to implement major European treaties have taken between 10 and 40 sitting days to get through parliament, according to the Institute of Government.
A spokesman for Johnson said that if the legislation strayed too far from the deal then its ratification would be placed in question.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)
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