MPs to Johnson: ‘Ask for an extension, then we’ll consider your Brexit deal.’
LONDON — U.K. MPs refused to vote on the Brexit deal Saturday — and instead forced the prime minister to seek a three-month extension first.
The House of Commons voted by 322 to 306 to support an amendment to the Brexit deal saying it “has considered the matter but withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation is passed.”
The move is designed to compel Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline from Brussels. He would not have had to do so if his deal had passed Saturday, even though further legislation would be required to pull the U.K. out of the EU.
Oliver Letwin, the architect of the amendment, and his allies were concerned that passing the deal could have allowed a no-deal Brexit to happen “accidentally” on October 31, if the ratification process required to make the deal law didn’t happen in time.
Johnson is now legally required under U.K. law to write to the EU asking for an extension until January 31, 2020. If the EU offered the U.K. an extension of a different length, the prime minister would have to agree with it unless he persuaded parliament to reject it.
However, Johnson insisted he would not negotiate a delay with the European Union, adding: “And neither does the law compel me to do so.”
“I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I have told everyone in the last 88 days that I have served as prime minister,” he explained. “That further delay will be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”
He added that the government will next week put forward the legislation required to take the U.K. out of the EU.
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