Brussels passes UK's Brexit delay letter to European Union parliament

Marco Green
October 21, 2019

The UK PM was bound by law to issue a letter seeking a delay to Brexit after MPs voted in a historic Super Saturday Parliament session to delay voting on his motion on a new Brexit deal. However, Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said Sunday that it would be "sensible" to grant an extension. Monday will feature more legal action, more arm-twisting, cajoling and veiled threats by Johnson and his ministers and more amendments designed by lawmakers to stymie Johnson's plan to have Britain leave the 28-nation bloc on October 31.

In the midst of all this, European Union leaders and officials across the Channel were pondering whether to grant the British leader a Brexit extension that he does not even want.

On Sunday Michael Gove, a close adviser to Johnson, told the UK's Sky News: "We are going to leave on October the 31st". The form of the letter that the prime minister must send is set out in full in the act.

"That letter was sent because Parliament required it to be sent. but Parliament can't change the Prime Minister's mind; Parliament can't change the government's policy or determination", Mr Gove said.

One of the leading members of Johnson's cabinet warned lawmakers on Sunday the country could crash out on October 31 if Parliament rejects Johnson's Brexit deal.

"We do want to leave with a deal and this deal from the prime minister is good enough for me", said Rudd, who backed the Letwin amendment that forced the delay.

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.

EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted late Saturday: "The extension request has just arrived".

French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson that Paris needed swift clarification on the situation after Saturday's vote, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.

He had previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for an extension.

In a warning to MPs, Mr. Gove added that there was no guarantee the European Union would agree to a delay which meant "the risk of leaving without a deal has grown". "We can not guarantee that the European Council will grant an extension", he said, adding that he would chair a meeting, scheduled for yesterday, "to ensure that the next stage of our exit preparations, our preparedness for a no deal, is accelerated". Parliament rejected her deal three times, by margins of between 58 and 230 votes.

The Times of London on Sunday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, said the European Union is ready to grant a three-month extension if Parliament fails to approve the deal, with the United Kingdom able to leave on the 1st or 15th of November, December or January if an accord is ratified.

Lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment that called for the legislation around the withdrawal deal to be approved first.

Furthermore, the French government seems to hate the UK's Brexit extension as the UK Telegraph mentions, "The French government has demanded a prompt "yes or no" from Britain over Boris Johnson's Brexit deal as European capitals appeared split on Sunday night over an extension and its duration".

Brussels officials pressed on with plans to ratify the divorce deal as European leaders considered Mr Johnson's delay request.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he believed the Government could get its deal through Parliament. "I will support it, I will vote for it", Letwin told BBC television.

The Labour Party said it will seek parliamentary support for a referendum on Mr. Johnson's deal.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told the BBC it is "inevitable" that lawmakers opposed to Brexit will put forward an amendment seeking a second referendum - something strongly opposed by Johnson and his government.

"He is being childlike". The news of the unsigned letter stirred the pot.

Johnson's letters came after another tumultuous day in the House of Commons, which worked in a Saturday session for only the first time since the Falklands War in 1982.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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