Brexit crisis: MPs ordered to stay in parliament to solve EU withdrawal chaos as February recess cancelled

'I realise that this is short notice for colleagues and house staff but I do think our constituents will expect that the house is able to continue to make progress at this important time'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 31 January 2019 11:40
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Andrea Leadsom announces MPs to stay in parliament to solve EU withdrawal chaos as February recess cancelled

Andrea Leadsom has announced that parliament's week-long recess in February has been cancelled in order to deal with the sheer amount of Brexit legislation.

The Commons leader made the announcement to MPs, as her cabinet colleague, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, admitted the day Britain formally leaves the EU may have to be delayed.

The House was expected to rise at the end of business on February 14 and return on February 25.

But speaking in the chamber on Thursday, Ms Leadsom said she had no intention to bring forward a motion on February recess dates and said MPs "may therefore need to continue to sit to make progress" on Brexit legislation.

"I realise that this is short notice for colleagues and house staff but I do think our constituents will expect that the house is able to continue to make progress at this important time," the cabinet minister said.

Ms Leadsom also apologised for the inconvenience and said “nobody will be out pocket” if they are forced to cancel long-standing plans.

In response, Valerie Vaz, shadow leader of the Commons, criticised the decision to cancel recess, saying the government is "staggering from one week to the next".

The Labour frontbencher said: "I cannot possibly imagine what MPs are going through with this announcement.

"Can the leader of the House please say ... what provision will be given to MPs for their children?

"It can't be right that MPs have to support their children in that way without the Government stepping in and providing provision for it."

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Hunt echoed Ms Leadsom's concerns about the need to pass the necessary legislation before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March - in just 57 days' time.

The cabinet minister also added that the government may even need "extra time" beyond the official deadline as became the most senior member of Theresa May's top team to admit to a possible extension of Article 50.

Asked about Britain's exit date, Mr Hunt told the Today programme: "I think that depends on how long this process takes.

"I think it is true that if we ended up approving a deal in the days before 29 March then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation. But if we are able to make progress sooner then that might not be necessary.

"We can't know at this stage exactly which of those scenarios would happen."

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