“My early Christmas present to the nation will be to bring the Brexit bill back before the festive break, and get parliament working for the people,” Boris Johnson said ahead of the Conservative manifesto launch on Sunday. “As families sit down to carve up their turkeys this Christmas, I want them to enjoy their festive season free from the seemingly unending Brexit box-set drama.”
But far from being free from drama, Johnson’s pledge will mean Brexit upheaval that could last right up to Christmas Eve.
Johnson is pushing to hold the crucial second reading vote on the Brexit bill ahead of the Christmas break, assuming he wins a majority at the general election on December 12. That means fast-tracking the parliamentary procedures that happen after an election and risking arguments with MPs and Commons authorities.
The earliest date that MPs can be back in parliament is Tuesday, December 17, because of the rules around the election and to allow time for logistical tasks such as reactivating and issuing security passes. MPs would elect a speaker that same day — which should be a formality because they picked Lindsay Hoyle to take over from John Bercow before they broke up for the election.
Then every MP needs to be “sworn in” (to make an oath of allegiance to the crown while holding up a sacred text) before they can speak in debates and vote. That would take up the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday.