The british government, on behalf of its prime minister boris johnson, plans to send a letter to the EU on saturday evening requesting a brexit postponement, as required by law. Johnson made the announcement in a phone call with EU council chief donald tusk, the german press agency has learned from EU circles.
The brexit drama is thus once again entering the extension phase. In the afternoon, the british house of commons had postponed the decision on the new EU withdrawal agreement, thus inflicting another severe defeat on johnson.
A majority of british mps had voted against the government’s wish to approve johnson’s renegotiated withdrawal agreement now. Instead, the decision was postponed until the legislation to ratify the treaty was finalized. Background is the distrust of many deputies against johnson. They saw the danger that the law could still fail and on 31. October could still threaten a chaotic brexit.
The vote by mps meant that a legal deadline would be broken: with no agreement approved by the house of commons, johnson had to apply for an extension of the withdrawal deadline until the end of january under the so-called benn act.
Johnson had said immediately after the house of commons vote that he was not obliged to negotiate an extension with the EU – something he has now apparently reconsidered. Johnson had said he would continue to push for a point-by-point withdrawal on 31 december. October insert. But he will introduce legislation next week to ratify the agreement. It is conceivable that this legislation will clear decisive parliamentary hurdles by tuesday and that johnson will still be able to get the deal through. Also, a new attempt for the deal on monday does not seem to be ruled out yet.
EU council president donald tusk had already tweeted after a phone call with johnson in the evening probably in view of the request for a repeated postponement of the brexit date: "i am waiting for the letter".
The EU commission had reacted tight-lipped to the back and forth in london in the meantime. "It is up to the british government to inform us as soon as possible about the next steps," said the spokeswoman of commission head jean-claude juncker, mina andreeva, on twitter. At the same time, she emphasized that the withdrawal agreement itself had not yet been voted on.
France’s president emmanuel macron had stressed: "a further delay is in nobody’s interest."On a british motion on a further postponement of the brexit date, france does not want to make up at the "current stage". France will decide on such a request from london together with its european partners, the elysee palace announced this evening.
Johnson had only this week, after a long dispute with the EU, agreed to a different withdrawal treaty, which was immediately approved by the EU heads of state and government. The new agreement clarifies the question of how the border between the EU state of ireland and the british state of northern ireland can remain open after the brexit. In addition, johnson agreed with brussel in a political declaration that there should only be loose ties between his country and the EU in the long term. An earlier version of the package had failed three times in the house of commons.
Johnson, at the start of the historic special session in the house of commons – the first saturday session in 37 years – had once again urged support for the new brexit treaty. It is a major deal that would allow an orderly exit from the EU on 31 december. October, johnson said in the house of commons. Opposition leader jeremy corbyn of the labor party, however, immediately rejected johnson, accusing the conservative head of government of selling out workers’ rights and environmental standards.
The prime minister has no majority of his own in parliament. He is therefore dependent on support from the opposition. Even the approval of the ratification bill is far from a foregone conclusion. Parliament has shown itself to be extremely fragmented in the past. The only consensus so far has been that there should be no unregulated exit without a treaty. Johnson now said he didn’t want that either.
While the debate raged in parliament, hundreds of thousands of brexit opponents demonstrated nearby. The demonstrators included celebrities such as actors patrick stewart and paul mcgann. Among other things, the demonstrators had two crude figures with them: they showed the controversial chief advisor to prime minister boris johnson, dominic cummings, carrying johnson in front of him like a puppet and making him squirm. Cummings figure reminded of a nazi.
In a 2016 referendum, a narrow majority of participants voted to leave the eu. The brexit had already been postponed twice in the spring, most recently to 31 december. October, in just under two weeks.