Boris Johnson’s victory in winning House of Commons approval for his Brexit deal means that Britain’s departure from the EU has moved from if to when.

But his attempt to push through the enabling measure to meet the October 31st exit date was defeated as members wanted more time to examine the legislation.  The rejection of the “timetable motion” makes is unlikely the government will be able to meet the month end departure deadline. 

Mr. Johnson said he would “pause the legislation” in order to receive the EU response to the parliament mandated delay. “One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal,” he asserted.  Mr. Johnson also promised that the government will speed-up its preparations for a no-deal exit.  

The government will now work with the EU Council and the member states to determine the length of the extension which has already been requested by the Johnson government as required by the Benn Act.  With Brexit approved the delay will likely be a short one designed to permit the passage of the enabling bill.

The convincing margin of 329-299 backing his deal on its second reading saw 19 Labour members from Leave areas join Eurosceptic Tories, independents and regular Tory members in providing a much larger than predicted majority. Prior to the vote most observers had projected a winning margin of 1 to 5 votes.  

Sterling fell sharply from its post-approval high of 1.3001 to 1.2860 as the “programme motion” failed before stabilizing around 1.2890.  Monday’s cable top of 1.3013 had been the highest in five months.

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