Voting on Brexit

August 20th, 2019

A paper from the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank on Parliament’s role before 31st October adds weight that there will be no Budget in September.

The media has been paying much interest of late to the arcane practices of parliamentary procedure. The focus has been on what the Government can do – or choose not to do – by 31st October.

The Institute for Government (IfG) has just published a paper, “Voting on Brexit” that takes a detailed look at this area. The IfG’s conclusions are:

  • It is very unlikely the UK will be able to leave the EU with a deal on 31 October;
  • MPs can express opposition to no deal but that alone will not prevent it;
  • Backbenchers have very few opportunities to legislate to stop no deal;
  • A vote of no confidence would not necessarily stop no deal;
  • There is little time to hold a general election before 31st October; and
  • A second referendum can only happen with Government support.

One survival-to-Halloween tactic which the IfG highlights is for the Government to minimise the opportunities for MPs to disrupt key legislation or add Brexit-related amendments to bills. This brings us on to a piece of statutory parliamentary timetabling which has relevance for an Autumn Budget. The IfG points out that if a “…budget were in September, the Finance Bill would need to pass its second reading before 31st October”. The reason for this is that a second reading of the Finance Bill must be passed within 30 days of the Budget statement. A Budget in the week beginning October 7th, may therefore fit the bill.