Parliament set for historic Saturday sitting to discuss Brexit

MPs will gather in Westminster for their first Saturday sitting since the Falkland Islands invasion, this time in the run up to Brexit.

The government plans to call them all to Westminster on 19 October – the day after the make-or-break EU summit that will decide if Britain leaves the EU with a deal just 11 days later.

While the move could technically be voted down by MPs, Downing Street thinks the chances of that happening are slim.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Birds fly past the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, on February 01, 2017 in London, England. The European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill that will trigger article 50 is being debated by MPs over two days. The vote will take place on tomorrow evening. Labour MPs are subject to a three-line whip after Jeremy Corbyn urged his party to vote for Article 50. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Image: The special sitting will come just a day after the crunch EU summit

19 October will also see likely thousands of protesters descend on parliament calling for another referendum to give the public a “final say” on Brexit.

And it marks the day when Mr Johnson will be forced to ask the EU to delay Brexit if he has not returned from Brussels with a deal.

He is compelled to because of legislation rushed through the Commons and Lords last month.

But the prime minister has vowed he will not delay the Brexit deadline, and that Britain will leave the EU as planned on 31 October “do or die”.

More from Brexit

People hold up placards as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)
Image: A protest calling for another referendum is happening on the same day

Parliament normally only sits Monday to Thursday, and occasionally on Fridays – which are usually reserved for MPs to head home to their constituencies for events.

Some also work through the weekend dealing with issues in their local area.

Parliament has only sat four times on Saturdays in the last 80 years:

  • 2 September 1939 – Outbreak of World War II
  • 30 July 1949 – Summer adjournment debates, last sitting of the summer
  • 3 November 1956 – Suez crisis
  • 3 April 1982 – Falkland Islands invasion
The prime minister insists the country will leave the European Union on October 31.
PM: We will respect the law and leave on October 31

The prospects of Britain leaving the EU with a deal were looking slim after Downing Street accused the EU yesterday of making it “essentially impossible” for a deal to be struck.

Mr Johnson is expected to meet the Irish prime minister on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to break the deadlock.

But Leo Varadkar has said it will be “very difficult” to do so.

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