Parliament to sit on a Saturday for first time since Falklands War to debate Brexit crisis

Posted On: 
9th October 2019

Parliament will sit on a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War in order to debate Brexit ahead of the Halloween deadline, Downing Street has confirmed.

MPs will sit in the Commons on 19 October
Credit: 
PA Images

MPs will assemble on 19 October, the day after Boris Johnson returns from the crunch EU Council summit where he will hold last-minute talks with Europe's 27 other leaders.

The date is also the deadline by which the Prime Minister must comply with the so-called Benn Act, by writing to Brussels asking for a Brexit delay until 31 January, should he have failed to strike an agreement.

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The session will mark the first time MPs have been recalled on a Saturday since Margaret Thatcher summoned them back in April 1982 following Argentina's invasion of the Falklands.

Number 10 confirmed that the sitting would go ahead regardless of whether the Prime Minister had secured a Brexit agreement in advance.

Mr Johnson has so far insisted that Britain will quit the bloc on 31 October with or without a deal, but that he will also comply with the law passed by MPs last month.

The move comes after Leo Varadkar said it will be “very difficult” to reach a deal, given the “wide difference” between the UK's proposals to replace the backstop mechanism for maintaining an open Irish border and the EU’s position.

The Irish Taoiseach told RTÉ News: "We very much want there to be a deal and I'll certainly work until the very last moment to secure that - not at any cost."

"And there are some fundamental objectives that haven't changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed."

He added: "I think it's going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly."

Meanwhile a Number 10 source claimed on Tuesday that Angela Merkel “made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely” because the EU wants Northern Ireland to remain in the customs union.

The source said: “It was a very clarifying moment in all sorts of ways.

“If this represents a new established position, then it means a deal is essentially impossible not just now but ever.

“It also made clear that they are willing to torpedo the Good Friday Agreement.”