Boris Johnson could recall parliament “as early as next week” to vote on a Brexit trade deal, Downing Street has said.
MPs are due to head home for their Christmas break on Thursday when, as usual, parliament goes into recess for the festive season.
But in a clear sign that an agreement with Brussels is close, Number 10 has said MPs and peers could be asked to return in just a few days’ time.
Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle can recall parliament at Johnson’s request with 48 hours’ notice, which includes weekends.
A No.10 spokesman said: “Time is now in short supply to reach an agreement with the EU and we expect discussions will continue over the coming days.”
They added: “In the absence of further substantive business, we will – subject to usual approval by the House – go into recess tomorrow [Thursday], but with the knowledge that we will recall MPs and Peers to legislate for a deal if one is secured.
“That recall could be as early as next week.”
It means that parliamentarians could be debating and voting on a Brexit deal legislation right up until New Year.
With the transition period due to end on December 31, time is running out, though UK and EU negotiators are thought to be hammering out the final details.
Disagreement on fishing quotas, fair competition rules and dispute resolution is thought to be the final hurdle.
No.10 added: “Parliament has long shown it can move at pace and the country would expect nothing less.
“The process for recall will align with the process for finalising the legislation for a deal, if one is secured, and no time will be lost.
“Under the recall process, we will adapt the days’ proceedings to focus exclusively on the passage of that legislation. This may mean meeting at an earlier time.
“We realise that this duty falls not just on MPs and peers, but on the parliamentary staff that make parliament function, to whom we are very grateful.”