Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Posted at: Oct 21, 2019, 7:35 AM; last updated: Oct 21, 2019, 7:35 AM (IST)

Johnson seeks more time for Brexit

Sends unsigned letter to EU requesting three-month extension to Oct 31 deadline
Johnson seeks more time for Brexit
Britain PM Boris Johnson speaks during the Brexit debate inside the House of Commons in London. PTI

London, October 20

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on Sunday branded a “spoilt brat” by the Opposition after he sent an unsigned letter seeking a three-month extension to the October 31 deadline from the European Union (EU).

The UK PM was bound by law to issue a letter seeking a delay to Brexit after MPs voted in a historic Super Saturday Parliament session to delay voting on his motion on a new Brexit deal.

Johnson has previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than miss the October 31 deadline.

However, given the Benn Act passed by MPs last month to avert a no-deal crash-out from the economic bloc meant that he was obliged to send an extension letter by the end of October 19 unless a new Brexit deal had been passed through by the Commons.

“The UK proposes that this (extension) period should end at 11 pm GMT on January 31, 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the government proposes that the period should be terminated early,” reads the unsigned letter sent to European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday night.

While the Downing Street stance is that the UK PM has complied with the Benn Act by sending the Parliament’s letter, there is some speculation if it opens up the prospect of legal action by it being an unsigned request.

In an accompanied signed letter to Tusk, Johnson repeated his pledge of leaving the EU within the October 31 deadline by pressing ahead with the requisite legislation next week to seek Parliament’s ratification for his withdrawal agreement.

“I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister, and made clear to Parliament again today, my view, and the government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” he states, insisting that the prolonged Brexit process must be brought to a conclusion to prevent a “corrosive impact” from further delays.

Tusk took to Twitter to say the UK’s extension request has been received and that he would consult with EU leaders on “how to react”.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Labour Party warned that Johnson could be in contempt of Parliament and possibly even the courts with his latest actions.

Labour’s shadow Chancellor said: “He may well be in contempt of Parliament or the courts themselves because he’s clearly trying to undermine the first letter and not signing the letter. He’s behaving a bit like a spoilt brat. Parliament made a decision, he should abide by it and this idea that you send another letter contradicting the first, I think it flies in the face of what both Parliament and the courts have decided.”

Senior Cabinet ministers, including Brexiteers Michael Gove and Dominic Raab, insisted on Sunday that the government was on track to meet the October 31 deadline to leave the EU. 

‘Johnson has numbers’

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, here on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had enough MPs’ support to get the Brexit deal passed. “We believe, we’ve got the numbers (to pass the deal) and we’ll keep talking to the DUP, and see if there's further reassurances that can be provided,” Raab tweeted.

Johnson’s former allies from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland and opposition parties have rejected the Brexit deal in its current form. — PTI

Ratification begins

  • Brussels officials on Sunday pressed on with plans to ratify the divorce deal as European leaders considered Johnson’s reluctant request for a Brexit delay 
  • Ambassadors and senior officials from the other 27 member states met on Sunday after British MPs forced Johnson to send EU Council president Donald Tusk a late request to postpone the withdrawal
  • The EU is keeping all options open and has therefore initiated the ratification process so that it can be handed over to the European Parliament on Monday, an EU diplomat said. AFP


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