Parliament debates Brexit deal as protesters demand new referendum

Cheryl Sanders
October 20, 2019

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will send two letters to the European Union before midnight in Brussels, but the one he's been forced to send, requesting an extension to Britain's departure from the bloc, will not carry his signature.

Rinne said the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will talk with the EU's 27 leaders about the British request to delay Brexit.

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.

Many lawmakers want to rule out the possibility that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal on the October 31 deadline - a prospect economists say would disrupt trade and plunge the economy into recession.

"I will now start consulting European Union leaders on how to react", Mr Tusk said on Twitter.

"The success of this amendment shows that MPs do not trust Boris Johnson not to run the country off a No-Deal cliff-edge a year down the line", said Naomi Smith, the CEO of Best for Britain, which campaigns for a new referendum.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's promise that his country will leave the European Union by October 31 may be in jeopardy - because of a request he made.

He will likely try again to put his Brexit deal to a parliamentary vote on Monday.

Johnson has been determined to take the country out of the 28-nation bloc on October 31, but lawmakers are trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would wreak damage on the United Kingdom economy.

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".

He said he would introduce legislation next week to implement his deal, with a first vote as soon as Tuesday.

"And we believe that ultimately the people must have the final say on Brexit, which actually only the Labour Party is offering". The amendment effectively builds into the law another insurance policy to avoid a "no-deal" Brexit.

Johnson struck a revised divorce deal with Brussels on Thursday, almost three-and-a-half years after Britain voted 52-48% to leave the European project.

"Johnson is a Prime Minister who is now treating Parliament and the Courts with contempt", John McDonnell, the Opposition Labour Party's finance spokesman said, "His juvenile refusal to even sign the letter confirms what we always suspected that Johnson with his arrogant sense of entitlement considers he is above the law and above accountability".

Johnson's Conservative party has only 288 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, so he needs the support of some opposition lawmakers.

Johnson has previously promised that he would take the country out of the bloc on October 31, and would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for any extension without explaining how he would do this while also complying with the Benn Act. It was passed by 322 votes to 306, CNN reported. Last month Parliament passed a law compelling the government to do that if no deal is approved by Saturday.

The vote is a blow to Johnson, who has previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than prolong the tortuous process of ending Britain's 46-year-old membership of the EU. Asked on BBC Breakfast whether the PM's move was "childish, Conservative Brexiteer MP Nigel Evans said: "Well he was going to be criticised if he didn't send the letter, because it would have been against the law".

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