Johnson sends unsigned letter to EU seeking Brexit delay as MPs reject deal
21 October 2019
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to seek a delay in the deadline set for Britain’s planned exit from the European Union after British lawmakers on Saturday voted to delay the new Brexit deal, arguing they needed more time to study its contents before an 31 October deadline.
While Johnson insisted that he will not negotiate a delay with the EU, the prime minister is reported to have sent an unsigned letter to European Parliament that the 31 October deadline won’t work under the current circumstances.
British MPs on Saturday backed an amendment, which effectively forced Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension until January next year, while they scrutinised the proposed domestic legislation to enforce the deal.
Johnson, however, said he sees no alternative and, "The best thing for the UK and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31."
While he conceded that the so-called "meaningful vote" on his divorce agreement with Brussels "has been voided of meaning," he also said, "I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so."
Johnson earlier argued that further delay - more than three years after the landmark 2016 referendum to leave the bloc - would be "pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive".
While it appears the new Brexit deal faces a formidable hurdle, British MPs could still meet the 31 October deadline when the government introduces its formal withdrawal agreement bill in parliament next week.
By seeking a delay they may be seeking to ensure they do not run out of time debating it and deliver by accident the no-deal Brexit they oppose, such a possibility would further complicate Britain’s exit from the EU.