Brexit timeline: What to look out for in a crucial week

European Union and British flags in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019.
European Union and British flags in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. Copyright REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
By Alasdair Sandford
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The race is on once again to try to secure a revised exit deal, with the EU and UK engaged in intensified talks ahead of an EU summit.


Many a time has an upcoming week been described as crucial, decisive or a “crunch” moment in the three and a half years since the UK’s EU referendum. None fits the bill as well as the next few days.

The race is on once again to try to secure a revised exit deal, with the EU and UK engaged in intensified talks ahead of an EU summit. It is due to take place just two weeks before the UK's scheduled departure date on October 31.

Monday 14 October:

Talks in Brussels continue between British and European negotiators, attempting to reach a revised Brexit agreement before the EU summit later in the week. Intensified discussions have been taking place amid reports that compromises are afoot over a replacement to the Irish backstop, which the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to ditch from the original withdrawal agreement.

In the UK parliament, the Queen’s Speech will set out the government's new programme. It will be followed by six days of debate. The government's opponents have dismissed it as a “stunt” geared more to a forthcoming election campaign than an actual legislative plan, given Johnson's lack of a parliamentary majority. It is unclear whether MPs will pass or reject it when they vote on the speech in the coming days.

French President Emmanuel Macron meets European Council President Donald Tusk in Paris.

Read more: What is the Queen's Speech and what happens if MPs reject it?

Tuesday 15 October:

Europe ministers from EU governments meet in Luxembourg. The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is expected to update EU27 ambassadors on progress – or otherwise – in the talks.

Wednesday 16 October:

This has been seen as the day a deal would need to be finalised ahead of the EU summit.

In the UK, various government ministers appear before parliamentary committees, where it is likely they will be questioned on Brexit plans.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel meet in Toulouse, along with their governments, for a regular Franco-German summit. They’ll be joined in the evening by the next European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

On the agenda? Climate change, industry, defence and security – according to the Elysée Palace. Europe has questions other than Brexit to consider.

Thursday 17 – Friday 18 October:

The European Council summit takes place over two days in Brussels. National leaders – plus the heads of the Council and the Commission – set the EU’s overall direction. This is when it is hoped they will sign off on a new deal or consider another Brexit extension. It's the last scheduled summit before the October 31 deadline.

If London and Brussels reach agreement, it has been suggested that EU leaders may consider a framework deal with the details to be filled in later, given the near-impossibility of finalising a full legal text in the time available.

Saturday 19 October:

The UK’s House of Commons is due to hold a special session, meeting for the first time on a Saturday since the Falklands crisis in 1982. However, at least one government minister has cast doubt that it will go ahead, if no deal has been struck with the EU.

Boris Johnson will be hoping to put a deal to a parliamentary vote. But if he returns from the EU summit with no deal, or a deal is not approved by parliament and MPs do not agree to a no-deal exit – then under the Benn Act the prime minister must write to the EU asking for another Brexit delay of three months.

Supporters of a second referendum are expected to attach an amendment, seeking to put any deal to another public vote.

Also on Saturday, anti-Brexit campaigners plan a large protest march in London, to call for a second referendum.

Read more:


UK parliament to sit on a Saturday for first time in 37 years

Could Boris Johnson bypass the Benn Act and force a no-deal Brexit?

Brexit Guide: Where are we now?

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