Parliament vote forces U.K. to postpone Brexit beyond Oct. 31

Jill Lawless and Raf Casert, The Associated Press

Published Saturday, October 19, 2019 7:59AM EDT

Last Updated Saturday, October 19, 2019 6:44PM EDT

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson grudgingly requested the European Union late Saturday to delay Brexit after the British Parliament postponed a call on whether or not to again his divorce deal. But the defiant Johnson additionally made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

Alaw handed by Parliament final month set a late-night deadline for the federal government to ship a letter asking the EU for a three-month postponement if lawmakers had not accredited an settlement with the bloc by Saturday. An hour earlier than the deadline, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react.”

Johnson made clear he was making the request underneath duress. The letter requesting an extension was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would “damage the interests if the U.K. and our EU partners.”

Earlier within the day, Johnson informed lawmakers that “further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to agree. Macron’s workplace mentioned he spoke to Johnson by telephone and insisted on the necessity for “quick clarification of the British position on the accord.” The president’s workplace mentioned Macron indicated to the British prime minister that “a delay would be in no one’s interest.”

At a uncommon weekend sitting of Parliament, lawmakers voted 322-306 to withhold their approval of the Brexit deal till laws to implement it has been handed.

The vote sought to make sure that the U.K. can’t crash out of the EU and not using a deal on the scheduled departure date. Johnson, who struck the settlement with the EU earlier this week, mentioned he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the outcome and would proceed to do all he can to get Brexit executed in lower than two weeks.

Parliament’s first weekend sitting for the reason that Falklands War of 1982 had been dubbed “Super Saturday.” It seemed set to carry Britain’s Brexit saga to a head , greater than three years after the nation’s divisive resolution to go away the EU.

But the federal government’s hopes have been derailed when House of Commons Speaker John Bercow mentioned he would permit a vote on an modification to put the vote on the deal off till one other day.

The modification makes help for the deal conditional on passage of the laws to implement it, one thing that would take a number of days or even weeks. It additionally offers lawmakers one other probability to scrutinize — and probably change– the Brexit departure phrases whereas the laws is in Parliament.

The authorities nonetheless hopes it will possibly move the wanted laws by the tip of the month so the U.K. can go away on time.

The chief of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, mentioned the federal government would maintain a debate Monday on its Brexit-implementing laws — successfully a second try to safe approval for the deal.

It’s unclear whether or not that will be allowed underneath House of Commons guidelines in opposition to holding repeated votes on the identical query. Bercow mentioned he would make a ruling Monday.

The vote was welcomed by a whole lot of hundreds of anti-Brexit demonstrators who marched to Parliament Square, demanding a brand new referendum on whether or not Britain ought to go away the EU or stay. Protesters, many sporting blue berets emblazoned with yellow stars symbolizing the EU flag, poured out of subways and buses for the last-ditch effort.

“Another chance for sanity and perhaps rationality to take over, rather than emotion,” filmmaker Jove Lorenty mentioned as he stood exterior Parliament. “Never give up until the fat lady sings. No one knows what will happen, but we have hope.”

Johnson, who got here to energy in July vowing to get Brexit completed, known as any delay to Britain’s departure pointless, costly and corrosive of public belief. And he warned that the bloc’s approval couldn’t be assured.

“There is very little appetite among our friends in the EU for this business to be protracted by one extra day,” Johnson mentioned. “They have had three and a half years of this debate.”

The EU was guarded in its response to Saturday’s vote.

“It will be for the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva tweeted.

When push comes to shove, the EU appears possible to grant an extension if wanted to keep away from a disruptive no-deal Brexit.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki mentioned his nation noticed the vote as a delay, relatively than a rejection of the Brexit deal. For EU leaders, avoiding a chaotic, no-deal Brexit needs to be the “top priority,” he mentioned in a tweet.

And the European Parliament’s chief Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt, famous that point was now tight to get the deal accredited by the EU legislature earlier than Oct. 31, which means a brief delay is likely to be wanted.

If Parliament approves the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in time, Britain may nonetheless go away by the tip of October. The authorities plans to introduce the invoice subsequent week and will maintain late-night sittings of Parliament in hope of getting it handed inside days.

But Johnson should win over a fractious and divided Parliament, which 3 times rejected the Brexit plan negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May.

His hopes of getting the deal by Parliament have been dealt a blow when his Northern Ireland ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, mentioned it will not again him. The get together says Johnson’s Brexit bundle — which carves out particular standing for Northern Ireland to preserve an open border with EU member Ireland — is unhealthy for the area and weakens its bonds with the remainder of the U.K.

To make up for the votes of 10 DUP lawmakers, Johnson has tried to persuade members of the left-of-centre Labour Party to help the deal. Late Friday, the federal government promised to bolster protections for the atmosphere and staff’ rights to allay Labour fears that the Conservative authorities plans to slash these protections after Brexit.

Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn dismissed the prime minister’s guarantees as insufficient.

“This deal is not good for jobs, damaging for industry and a threat to our environment and natural world,” he mentioned. “Supporting the government this afternoon would merely fire the starting pistol in a race to the bottom in regulations and standards.”

Casert reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Gregory Katz and Mike Corder in London and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this story.

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