We're 59 days away from potentially leaving the EU. But today there could be a parliamentary showdown over Brexit, which could lead to a general election (cue Brenda from Bristol).

Here, we attempt to explain what might happen today and what it could mean for the future of Brexit, and the prospect of a general election.

For starters, what is happening today?

MPs return to Parliament today after a summer break. A cross-party group, including Conservatives and Labour, who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit are putting forward a motion to allow them to control the Commons business on Wednesday.

This is intended to allow them time to debate a law to block a no-deal (see below).

Some are also saying they could also seek an emergency debate from Commons Speaker John Bercow, under the rules of standing order number 24, commonly called SO24.

However, Tory MPs have been warned they will be expelled from the party and deselected if they support the cross-party legislation.

What does the Bill actually say?

Well, if the cross party group win the vote tonight to allow them to control business in the House of Commons on Wednesday, then the bill to block no deal essentially says that if no deal or a new deal is not approved by the Commons by October 19, then the Prime Minister has to request another Brexit delay - this time until January 2020.

It has been put forward by Labour MP and Brexit Select Committee chairman Hilary Benn and Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt.

The snappily-titled European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2019 also has the support of Tory former Cabinet minsters Philip Hammond and David Gauke, a sign of how the rebel ranks have been bolstered following the change in prime minister.

If the European Council proposes an extension to a different date then the Prime Minister must accept that extension within two days, unless the House of Commons rejects it.

Royal Borough Observer:

What does the Government say about it?

After an emergency Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister used a statement in Downing Street on Monday evening to urge MPs not to back a “pointless” delay.

Such a move would “cut the legs out” from under the UK’s negotiating position with the EU.

It has been made clear to Tory MPs that they will lose the whip if they back the plan and, in a dramatic raising of the stakes, allies of Mr Johnson said he would seek a snap general election if Tuesday’s measure is passed.

What time is all of this happening?

Oral questions in the main chamber of the House of Commons start today from 2.30pm.

The bill is then up for debate on Wednesday and must receive backing from more than half of MPs in a series of votes to progress to the next stage.


What's the likelihood of getting a new deal with the EU?

Publicly, those involved say there is a change of mood in the EU and any attempt to undermine the Government weakens the negotiating decision.

However, leaks from Downing Street suggest the prime minister’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings described talks as “a sham” in internal strategy meetings.

The attorney general Geoffrey Cox warned the prime minister it was a “complete fantasy” to think the EU would ditch the backstop, according to accounts reported by the Daily Telegraph.

And former chancellor Philip Hammond told the BBC on Tuesday morning: “There are no substantive negotiations going on.”

Sky News reported that a draft version of the UK’s revised protocol for the backstop was merely the old protocol, with the sections referring to the backstop crossed out. 

Can Boris actually call an election?

The tweet above is absolutely right in its explanation. 

Calling an election would require the support of two-thirds of MPs under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

When could an election take place?

The date of October 14 is being mooted. This is unusual because it is a Monday, rather than the typical Thursday for an election.

Some are reportedly suspicious the Prime Minister would seek to alter the election date to delay it until after Brexit.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said a vote of no confidence is “very much there on the table” as he pledged to “do everything we can to stop” no-deal.

If the vote won the support of a majority of MPs, there would be 14 days for another government to be formed, otherwise Parliament would be dissolved and a general election triggered.

Royal Borough Observer:

Picture from PA

What will happen to the Conservative MPs who vote against the Government?

They will be kicked out of the party and banned from standing for the Conservatives at the next election.

No, it's not just gossip and rumour, it's actually the plan from Number 10.

It's interesting because Boris Johnson's government and, indeed cabinet, is heavily populated with ministers who defied the whip under Theresa May, but stayed in post.

If the Prime Minister sticks to his guns on the threat, his slim majority will be diminished, making it even more difficult, should he win the vote.

But it appears the tough stance from No. 10 has strengthened the resolve of many of the rebels.

Former chancellor Philip Hammond has threatened legal action if Boris Johnson tries to cast him out of the party.

The former Chancellor said Boris Johnson will face “the fight of a lifetime” if he fulfils a threat to drop Mr Hammond as a candidate in Runnymede and Weybridge, Surrey.

Mr Hammond, who has been the area's MP of 22 years, was reselected by local members last night.

What else could put a spoke in the wheel?

The PM faces threats from many angles, with legal challenges coming in courts across the UK.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers who want to block Parliament’s suspension will have the full hearing of their application in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the High Court will consider a judicial review request from Gina Miller, the businesswoman who successfully challenged the Government over the triggering of the Article 50 process to start the Brexit countdown.

She, too, wants to challenge Mr Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.

And in Belfast, a judicial review against the Government by a campaigner arguing that no-deal could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process is scheduled for September 16.

Royal Borough Observer: Picture from PA