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Explained: The SO24 process of emergency debates

An emergency debate can be held in the House of Commons if the speaker allows and the House agrees. Credit: PA

With Boris Johnson's government seemingly happy to leave the EU without a deal, opposition MPs and rebel Tories are exploring ways to thwart him.

Which is why you'll be hearing the term "SO24" bandied around as the October 31 Brexit deadline draws nearer.

If you live near Southampton, don't worry - MPs aren't planning on holding an emergency debate in your SO24 postcode.

What is SO24?

SO24 stands for Standing Order Number 24.

It is the Parliamentary code for the emergency debates held in the House of Commons on Mondays to Thursdays.

Who decides if an SO24 can be granted?

Speaker John Bercow holds sway. Credit: PA

Under the rules of SO24, MPs may apply to the Speaker for an emergency debate during sitting time, according to parliament.uk.

If the Speaker grants permission for the application to be heard, an MP then has three minutes to make a speech outlining why there should be an emergency debate.

The Speaker must then decide whether to submit the application to the House, however it is rare for this to happen.

Then, if the House agrees that a debate should take place, it will be scheduled to take place on a future date, usually the next day Parliament sits.

Can an emergency debate achieve anything?

These debates usually have no authority to enforce whether any particular action is taken.

However the Speaker can allow for amendments to be voted upon, giving the debate more power.

MPs could then take control of the Commons agenda for a full day and force through a new law, such as one that forces the PM to further extend Article 50.

Could it work?

Yvette Cooper forced a speedy Brexit extension earlier this year. Credit: PA

As laws need to have been approved by the Lords as well as the Commons, it often takes weeks before a law is passed.

But it is possible to do it in as little as three days - as Yvette Cooper managed in April when she forced a Brexit extension.

So, in theory, MPs could use SO24 to begin a process to ultimately pass a law to block no-deal Brexit on October 31, but time is running out.