Boris Johnson is set for a showdown with Commons Speaker John Bercow today, with the prime minister expected to push for a so-called “meaningful vote” on his Brexit deal.
It is possible that Mr Bercow could block the government’s move, and rule that the vote cannot be repeated so soon because it effectively happened on Saturday.
Last week, the speaker had told MPs that the “apparent purpose” of Monday’s vote was to “invalidate or obviate” the effect of an amendment by Sir Oliver Letwin, which means that MPs will withhold their approval for Mr Johnson’s deal unless and until he has passed all necessary legislation to implement it.
If Mr Bercow does prevent Mr Johnson from having a meaningful vote in the Commons, the focus will switch to the government bringing its Withdrawal Agreement Bill before MPs later today – with a vote on its second reading tomorrow.
Ministers have insisted that they have the numbers to push this agreement through the Commons, but the arithmetic in parliament appears to be very tight.
A government source told the PA news agency: “Parliament needs a straight up-and-down vote on the deal… or do they want to frustrate and cancel Brexit altogether?
“We cannot allow parliament’s letter to lead to parliament’s delay.”
Labour has warned it is going to try and hijack the legislation by putting down amendments for a second Brexit referendum and a customs union with the European Union.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has also indicated that the opposition could back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill if it was put to voters in a national poll against an option to Remain.
All of this comes as reports suggest that the EU is considering whether to offer the UK a “flexible extension” to the Brexit deadline – enabling the country to leave the trading bloc whenever an agreement has been secured.
Mr Johnson has continued to insist that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, but with just 10 days to go until this “do or die” deadline, the clock is ticking.
The PM was forced to abandon plans for a meaningful vote on Saturday after Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment passed – and as a result, he had to write to European Council President Donald Tusk to request a three-month extension to the Brexit negotiating period until 31 January 2020.
Although Mr Johnson did fulfil this legal obligation, he sent a second letter that warned a further delay to Brexit would be “deeply corrosive” for both the UK and the EU.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the prime minister of “behaving like a spoilt brat”.
Looking ahead to today’s events in Westminster, Sky’s political correspondent Lewis Goodall said: “It always does seem to be a crucial week for the government and the Brexit deal, but I think the next few days really will be pivotal.
“Despite the fact that the government wants to bring back a meaningful vote today, they will not in all likelihood be allowed to do so.
“This is because the speaker will likely get up at 3.30pm and say that, as a result of the fact that the House of Commons has already made a decision on this via the Letwin amendment, there cannot be a meaningful vote until that legislation has been carried out.
“The problem then is that, once you get looking into the legislation, it can be amended in every way imaginable.”