British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the House of Commons in London on Tuesday. Photo: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

Johnson says it is up to EU on Brexit delay after parliament rejects swift decision

By William James, Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long, after a defeat in parliament made ratification of his deal by the Oct 31 deadline almost impossible.

As the clock ticks down to the deadline for Britain's departure, Brexit is hanging in the balance as a divided parliament debates when, how and even whether it should happen.

In another day of Brexit drama in the 800-year-old Westminster parliament, lawmakers handed Johnson the first major parliamentary victory of his premiership by signalling their support for his deal in an early legislative hurdle.

But that was overshadowed just minutes later when parliament defeated him on his timetable to rush the legislation through the House of Commons in just three days.

Lawmakers voted 329 to 299 in favor of the second reading of the legislation for the deal - still no guarantee of success since the bill could be amended by lawmakers who want changes.

They then voted 322 to 308 against Johnson's extremely tight timetable, which the government has repeatedly said is necessary to reach Johnson's target of leaving on Oct 31.

"I must express my disappointment that the House has yet again voted for delay," Johnson told parliament.

The next step, he said, would be waiting for the EU to respond to a request to delay the Oct 31 Brexit date, which Johnson reluctantly sent to Brussels on Saturday after being forced to do so by lawmakers.

"The EU must now make up their minds over how to answer parliament's request for a delay," he said. "The government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome."

Johnson was forced by opponents into the humiliation of asking the EU for the delay after vowing he would never seek one, but had still hoped to make the request unnecessary by passing the Brexit law fast enough to leave on time.

"I will speak to EU member states about their intentions, until they have reached a decision we will pause this legislation," Johnson said. "Let me be clear, our policy remains that we should not delay."

The pound fell 0.6% to $1.2881, off the 5-1/2 month highs hit earlier in the session on optimism about the deal.

The EU has not yet formally responded to Johnson's unsigned photocopy of a letter asking for more time.

The length of any extension could decide the course of Brexit: a long delay would allow opponents of the divorce to push for another referendum. A short delay might increase pressure on parliament to approve a deal.

The European Commission took note on Tuesday of the vote in the British parliament and said it would wait for London to tell it what's next.

"European Council President (Donald Tusk) is consulting leaders on the UK’s request for an extension until 31 January 2020," she said. A spokesman for Tusk declined comment.

Senior EU officials said the 27 countries that would remain in the EU after Britain leaves would "certainly not" react immediately. "We stay calm," one senior diplomat said.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar welcomed the vote in favor of Johnson's legislation.

"We will now await further developments from London and Brussels about next steps including timetable for the legislation and the need for an extension," Varadkar said.

Ahead of the vote, Johnson had warned parliament that if it defeated him on the timetable and forced a delay until January then he would abandon his attempt to ratify the deal and push for an election instead under the slogan of "Get Brexit Done".

In his statement after the votes in parliament, Johnson did not mention an election. Johnson would need the support of parliament to call one.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Johnson to work with other parties to ensure a reasonable timetable to discuss the deal. Some in the Labour Party expect a short extension, with Brexit being resolved and then an election within months.

Behind the daily Brexit combat in parliament, in the courts and at late-night EU summits, a much bigger game is being played over whether Brexit will happen at all.

Johnson faces legislative booby traps at every juncture, but the opponents of Brexit are also deeply divided - one of the reasons their campaign to "Remain" failed in the 2016 vote.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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If I ran my affairs similarly to the Westminster Parliament I would be destitute...

7 ( +10 / -3 )

They sure pack them in tight in there...maybe time to get a bigger room.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The best part about Brexit is discovering and watching John Bercow do his thing.

The man is seriously the most entertaining politician on either side of the pond.


0 ( +5 / -5 )

All of them earn over £300,000 a year. For sitting, listening, gossiping, talking, murmuring, even eating, sometimes slamming, laughing and mostly joking. Where's the real work? Perhaps those are. How parliament!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Oar da! Oar da!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

All of them earn over £300,000 a year.

No they don't. The basic annual salary for an MP from 1 April 2019 is £79,468.


10 ( +11 / -1 )

As with everything about the west, an utter joke.

Man I have heard some broad statements in my life, but this one takes the cake. How on earth do you jump from story 1 (Brexit issues) to concluding everything in the west is a joke?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

While BoJo waits for Brexit, America wants Prexit for Bozo.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Extend until 31 January 2020, after that extend again, and again .....

How much more time, how much more patience is needed.

I'd say 31 October is the deadline and that's it!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

To leave or not to leave, that is the question.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How much more time, how much more patience is needed.

As much as it takes, no less, no more.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Johnson wanted the debate on the bill to be shorter than the time given to discuss the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019. That bills affects a total of 19 animals.

The only person who needs to have this decided in haste with no scrutiny and no amendments is the foolish one who has been going around saying "October 31, Do or die!"

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Its a bad deal and Boris is desperate to get it passed the commons before this become clear.

His argument for getting it through is trust me, a man who tried to close parliament down for 5 weeks and last week threw his allies the DUP under the Brexit bus.

Now he is threatening to withdraw the bill and go on strike if anyone objects or amends it.

You can't make this stuff up its too ridiculous.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"It's 2142, the UK prime minister is going to deliver his delay request to the EU, nobody knows how it started but the tradition is kept alive..."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I'd say 31 October is the deadline and that's it!

What do you mean, "you'd say"? The PM can't just turn off democracy in the UK, no matter how much he wants to.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Brexit is no slam-dunk, but rather a masochistic exercise in self-harm, a British variation of the "Chinese" water torture", drop by drop, or like the old "death by a thousand cuts". The next phase will inevitably require further torment in a nasty general election, followed by a noisy referendum campaign. In the unlikely event of Brexit 2, this would mean the Tories, (who else?), supping from a poison chalice. The resulting economic chaos and social unrest would eventually force the chastened Brexity McBrexitfaced xenophobes to beg the EU to allow the UK back into the European family of nations toute de suite. In the long meantime, keep a ready supply of popcorn on hand.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The Brexit will do nothing to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. Today, British police found 39 bodies in an Essex lorry (truck) container. The driver was arrested.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That's what BJ said last week, and the week before that, and the week before that...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Brexit and migration are two completely separate issues.

The spectre of mass migration is another Brexit myth peddled to disenfranchise a 2016 majority that had the gall to vote to leave.

The issue here is leadership or the lack of it, on both sides of the House of Commons.

One point is clear German political influence is overwhelming in EU commission affairs.

Germany’s economic affairs minister Peter Altmaier statement that ‘it goes without saying’ a Brexit extension would be granted underlines the fact. The European Union is not and never will be a Union of equals.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

A General Election, the people must decide and have at least a modicum of trust in who makes these crucial mandated decisions.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The year is 2192. The British Prime Minister visits Brussels to ask for an extension of the Brexit deadline. No one remembers where this tradition originated, but every year it attracts many tourists from all over the world.

— Julian Popov (@julianpopov) October 19, 2019

A cut a paste from Politico EU lol

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It would really have been a lot simpler to exit and then renegotiate entrance/relations again. Yes, that would have involved a "temporary" hard-border between N & S of Ireland, but that in itself should add to motivation for the Parties involved to make a deal happen, rather than procrastinate.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It’s been three years since the Brexit vote. Democracy delayed is Democracy denied.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Under the Good Friday Agreement there can be no borders between the North and South of Ireland.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Democracy delayed is Democracy denied.

It's not been delayed at all. It's been actively worked upon for three years.

Trying to rush something like this just shows the worry of the leavers that the democratic process will show that the people don't actually want to leave.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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