Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has refused to confirm the date of the “meaningful vote” on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Leadsom faced pressure from Labour and the SNP to give a date for the vote after the government suspended debate on the prime minister’s deal earlier this month.
The Cabinet minister, speaking at business questions, would only confirm that a new debate on the deal would begin in the week beginning January 14.
The response prompted shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz to liken the government’s Brexit strategy to cartoon Wacky Races.
She said: “The prime minister yesterday was like a pantomime dame, the government is like Wacky Races, or the spin-off, The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop, the Prime Minister as Penelope, stopping off at the EU capitals being pursued by that Ant Hill Mob, the no-dealers, chasing unicorns.
“The prime minister has phoned all her friends, she’s taken away all the answers, right or wrong, pulling the vote and she’s failed to ask the audience.
“Can the leader give us a guarantee that there will be a vote in the week commencing January 14 just as the prime minister has stated in Parliament?”
Leadsom responded: “The business of the House will be subject to the House motion which will be put on January 9 and there will be the opportunity for the House to agree the business then.”
The Commons Leader, on the issue of whether MPs who had contributed in the first debate would speak again, said that was a matter for the Speaker.
She later said: “I would just like to point out that Penelope Pitstop always wins through in the end, all the rotters and the cads around her get defeated and she always wins.”
Tory former leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “Can I say she should also recall that Penelope Pitstop was opposed by a man called Dick Dastardly who was completely incompetent and lost out every time as well.”
SNP Commons leader Ian Blackford later sought clarification, asking Leadsom: “Will this meaningful vote definitely happen at the time specified by the prime minister, a yes or no, and we will not accept any other attempts to remove this?”
Leadsom, referencing the debate, said: “It will be coming back on the first week back.”