Brexit Standoff as Boris Johnson Defies MPs' Vote to Delay EU Exit

Andrew Cummings
October 20, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly wrote to Brussels asking for a Brexit extension after MPs voted to force him into seeking a delay beyond October 31.

Mr Johnson had been legally required to send the letter and stressed to Brussels he was only sending it at Parliament's bidding.

In a separate letter, Johnson also asked European Union officials not to grant such extension as it would cause a delay, which he described as a "mistake".

European Union officials have not responded to the request.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Tusk would consult with other leaders "in the next days" about Johnson's request, but most signs indicate the EU would prefer an extension to an abrupt no-deal Brexit.

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said later the vote would happen on Monday.

An EU source told AFP that the process "may take a few days" and declined to comment on the non-signature. It expresses his confidence that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union by the current deadline of October 31, saying that "a further extension would damage the interests" of the United Kingdom and its European Union partners.

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have said they will vote against the deal, but conservatives have in the past relied on their support for a working majority in Parliament.

He said: "The risk of leaving without a deal has actually increased because we can not guarantee that the European Council will grant an extension".

The protests in central London turned ugly later in the day, as arguments between People's Vote marchers and Brexit supporters broke out in Westminster. In theory, the EU27 could veto any request for a delay.

"The prime minister must now comply with the law".

Tory whips had embarked on a frantic attempt to win back the support of the sacked Tory rebels and were delighted half of them voted with the Government.

But parliament, like the frustrated public, is still bitterly divided over how and even whether Britain should end decades of integration with its closest trading partner.

Saturday's session of Parliament was only the fifth time lawmakers have met on a Saturday since the start of World War II.

Some MPs speculated that Johnson would request the extension by 2200 UTC on Saturday but may stipulate that it would only take effect if parliament does not approve his deal by the end of the month.

"That's really good, that's one step away from Brexit", demonstrator Philip Dobson told AFP.

Brexit "Super Saturday" topped a frenetic week which saw Johnson confound his opponents by clinching a new Brexit deal with the EU.

MPs voted 322 to 306 in favour of the amendment, withholding approval of the Brexit deal until legislation to implement it is enshrined in law, to the delight of Remainers and cheering protesters outside Parliament.

The EU, which has grappled with the tortuous Brexit crisis since Britons voted 52%-48% to leave in a 2016 referendum, was clearly bewildered by the contradictory signals from London.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme, Mr Davies said: "I do hope that people do reflect on the actions in the House yesterday when there is a deal on the table that could have obviously secured our exit on October 31".

The government is expected to introduce legislation implementing the deal as early as Monday with a vote coming on Tuesday.

And shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer left open the possibility that the party could back Mr Johnson's deal if a new national poll was attached to it.

Other reports by iNewsToday