Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

United Kingdom lawmakers to vote on whether to delay Brexit decision

A grey sky over Britain's Parliament buildings in London Friday Oct. 18 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS  AP  Kirsty Wigglesworth A grey sky over Britain's Parliament buildings in London Friday Oct. 18 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS AP Kirsty Wigglesworth
Patty Aguilar | 20 October, 2019, 16:29

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a stinging defeat on Saturday as Parliament rebuffed his campaign to take Britain out of the European Union by the end of the month and forced him to seek an extension that he had vowed never to pursue.

In the third letter to Tusk, the president of the EU Council, Johnson said a delay would be "deeply corrosive", making clear that the request for an extension is not the view of the British government.

Britain's House of Commons last month passed a law demanding the government seek a delay until the end of January 2020 to avoid an abrupt split on October 31, if a divorce deal is not approved by Parliament by October 19.

British legislator Oliver Letwin, whose amendment forced Johnson to request the delay, said on Sunday that he believed the United Kingdom prime minister could probably get his Brexit deal over the line.

The move was aimed at preventing Britain from leaving the European Union on Oct 31 without a transitional deal in place because the necessary legislation could not be ratified in time.

Instead, by a vote of 322 to 306, lawmakers passed a last-minute amendment, brought by Oliver Letwin, an expelled member of Mr. Johnson's Conservative Party, that would delay final approval on the agreement until after Parliament passes the detailed legislation to enact it.

"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.

There might be tranquil the likelihood that Mr Johnson might perhaps perhaps in discovering his deal through Parliament sooner than the October 31 closing date, nonetheless time is running out and the European Parliament would additionally want to ratify it.

It is possible that the European Union 27 will grant a "technical extension" of just one month until the end of November to keep pressure on Britain to approve the deal clinched last week.

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However, the main opposition Labour Party has condemned the deal as a "sell-out", while Johnson's Northern Irish allies are opposed to its arrangements for the province.

"If we still hope to be able to salvage this deal, we'd be looking at shorter ones", the diplomat said.

The government is seeking a new vote on its deal tomorrow, although this may fall foul of parliamentary procedure.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted Boris Johnson may be in contempt of Parliament over Brexit.

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.

Despite attempts by Downing Street to muddy the waters, the prime minister's letter requesting an extension was formally accepted by Tusk on Saturday night.

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told the BBC on Sunday: "The law is very clear".

Johnson very much wants Britain to leave the bloc on October 31 but British lawmakers have not yet voted on his new Brexit plan. Opposition MPs have warned the PM that if he tries to circumvent Parliament's instructions to seek a delay, then he may find himself in the law courts.

He urged MPs to end years of uncertainty that has weighed on the economy and divided the nation - but they refused, warning his deal would leave Britain worse off. It would make support for the deal conditional on the legislation to implement it being passed by Parliament, something that could take several days or weeks.

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