Boris Johnson has delayed a vote on his Brexit agreement.
It came after the government lost a vote on an amendment set down by former Tory cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin.
The amendment withholds approval of the deal until all the legislation to enact the bill is safely passed.
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This was because some opponents of no-deal believed that the government would use the fact that a deal had been agreed to avoid the consequences of the “Benn Act”.
That act, tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn, forced the government to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension if a deal was not finalised.
Some ex-Conservatives who have lost the whip or left the party, including Philip Hammond and Nick Boles, feared approval of the Withdrawal Bill could have been delayed, and the UK would crash out without a deal.
The amendment withholds approval of the deal, regardless of whether it is passed by parliament at the first reading, until it has passed fully.
In total, 322 MPs backed the amendment, and 306 opposed it.