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Following intensive discussion between UK and EU negotiators, it was announced on 17 October 2019 that a new deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol had been reached. The following Saturday, the House of Commons sat to debate a ‘meaningful vote’ on the new deal. After an amendment by Sir Oliver Letwin, which withheld approval of the deal until all appropriate legislation was passed, the Government decided not to hold the vote. This triggered the provisions of the so-called Benn-Burt Act, passed some days previously, which required the Government to seek an extension from the European Union.

The Prime Minister sent two letters to the President of the European Council, one unsigned, containing a formal request for an extension to Article 50, and an accompanying note outlining the political situation which had compelled him to do so, and outlining his own position that an extension would be harmful. The Speaker of the House decided not to allow another vote on the same motion the following Monday.

The Government proceeded to introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which passed its second reading. However, MPs failed to approve the timetable the Government set out, in order to allow the legislation to pass in time for the 31 October deadline.

This edition of the Brexit Brief outlines recent events in the negotiations and House of Commons and notes the reactions from the UK, Ireland and the EU.

This Brexit brief is available here.