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Johnson sends unsigned letter to EU asking for Brexit delay

29 Comments
By Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Britain's exit from the bloc and also said he did not want the extension after his latest Brexit setback in parliament on Saturday.

Johnson had previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for any extension to the Oct 31 deadline.

But he was compelled, by a law passed last month by opponents, to send a letter to the bloc asking to push back the deadline to Jan. 31 after lawmakers thwarted his attempt to pass his EU divorce deal on Saturday.

A government source said Johnson sent a total of three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council: a photocopy of the text that the law, known as the Benn Act, forced him to write; a cover note from Britain's EU envoy saying the government was simply complying with that law; and a third letter in which Johnson said he did not want an extension.

"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," Johnson said in the third letter, published on Twitter by the Financial Times' Brussels correspondent.

Johnson, for whom delivering Brexit is key to his plan to hold an early election, said he was confident that the process of getting the Brexit legislation through Britain's parliament would be completed before Oct. 31, according to the letter.

Tusk said he had received the request from Johnson.

"I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react," he said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson that Paris needed swift clarification on the situation after Saturday's vote, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.

"He signalled a delay would be in no one's interest," the official said.

However, it was unlikely that the EU's 27 members states would refuse Britain's delay request.

Johnson had hoped that Saturday would see recalcitrant lawmakers finally back the divorce deal he agreed with EU leaders this week and end three years of political deadlock since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.

Instead, lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment that turned Johnson's planned finale on its head by obliging him to ask the EU for a delay, and increasing the opportunity for opponents to frustrate Brexit.

Johnson has previously promised that he would take the country out of the bloc on Oct 31, without explaining how he would do this while also complying with the Benn Act.

"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so," he told parliament after lawmakers backed the amendment on Saturday.

Opposition politicians accused him of believing he was above the law.

"Johnson is a Prime Minister who is now treating Parliament and the Courts with contempt," John McDonnell, the opposition Labour Party's finance spokesman said.

"His juvenile refusal to even sign the letter confirms what we always suspected that Johnson with his arrogant sense of entitlement considers he is above the law and above accountability."

Scotland's highest court is due to consider on Monday a legal challenge that had sought to force Johnson to comply with the Benn Act. The court said earlier this month that government lawyers had given formal legal statements that he would abide by the Benn Act and it would be a serious matter if he did not.

"Boris Johnson promised #Scottish court he would comply with#BennAct & not seek to frustrate it. Looks like he's breaking both promises," Joanna Cherry, a Scottish National Party lawmaker involved in the case said on Twitter.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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Johnson had previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for any extension to the Oct 31 deadline.

But he was compelled, by a law passed last month by opponents, to send a letter to the bloc asking to push back the deadline to Jan. 31 

Time for a general election, vote out the Remainer politicians, vote in the Brexit Party, leave the EU and get on with trade agreements with the U.S. and other countries.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Tusk ought to return it for a signature...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Johnson had previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for any extension to the

seems like another back down by Boris, but he didnt sign it so it didnt come from him LMFAO, got to love how real democracies actually make those in power comply with the laws.

Time for a general election, vote out the Remainer politicians, vote in the Brexit Party, 

they can have a election after the Brexit fiasco is over,

Heres an idea maybe have an election with another Brexit vote at the same time ,that is legally binding. After all if your so sure youd win an election you must be sure youd win a legally binding Brexit vote. Wonder if Boris would take the bait. lol

0 ( +5 / -5 )

like other country in Europe , they will make a new fake referendum to cancel this brexit proclaiming that people want to stay in Europe. democracy...? yes buddy...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Time for a general election, vote out the Remainer politicians, vote in the Brexit Party, leave the EU and get on with trade agreements with the U.S. and other countries.

What do you think of the policies of the Brexit Party?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

wtfjapan: Heres an idea maybe have an election with another Brexit vote at the same time ,that is legally binding. After all if your so sure youd win an election you must be sure youd win a legally binding Brexit vote.

Looks like they just might win -

Published Oct. 17, 2019

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/three-years-on-brexit-poll-puts-leave-ahead-by-8-points-pbwlctw7d

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Looks like they just might win -

but it pointless because the UK is leaving the EU, justy all depends on how much damage Boris can limit by doing it. No the US will never replace the EU as the UKs biggest trading partner , not unless Trump wants to give the UK zero tariffs across the board for all UK exports, LOL dont see that happening ever

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This headline misses the most important point, and the article buries the lead in the fourth paragraph.

Johnson sent three letters, two of which undermined the letter asking for a delay. Johnson is playing to win by following the letter of the law. Britain should already be out of the EU. It's only capitulations to Remainer shenanigans that still have this drama playing out. The Benn Act said that the prime minister must send a letter, not that he must sign it or support it. Johnson met the requirement of the law and additionally made absolutely clear his prerogative as prime minister.

Remainers are utterly dishonest with their calls for delays. They've scuttled the deal that Johnson worked out after they forced him to work out a deal. It was as good of a deal as one could reasonably expect. Johnson didn't put any poison pills in the deal so that he could justify a Hard Brexit. From the Remainers, there is no interest in a deal of any kind. Remainers will vote down any deal, in defiance of the British people.

There are now two choices: Let the clock expire, and Britain is out of the EU, or obtain a delay long enough to hold a general election, handing the British people an opportunity to deal with the Remainers. Remainers will shriek at either option, but what can they ultimately do? Nullify the popular vote?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

After all if your so sure youd win an election you must be sure youd win a legally binding Brexit vote.

Are you suggesting that the original referendum to leave the EU was not legally binding? If so, there is very little else you can say that has any credibility. Advocating vote after vote after vote until you get the result you like is an utterly destructive way to run a democracy.

Remainers are currently defying the British people, whom they view with contempt. The British people legally obligated Parliament to leave the EU by a specific date. Remainers in Parliament have not yet found a way to nullify that vote, but they have used every possible means to delay Brexit, hoping to find a way to undo it. If these elitists force vote after vote until they get their preferred result, then declare the matter settled, the British people should be merciless toward them.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Nullify the popular vote?

Non-binding referendum.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Advocating vote after vote after vote until you get the result you like is an utterly destructive way to run a democracy.

I hear this argument a lot (sometimes referred to as a neverendum), but I don't buy it. Only a government can hold a referendum, and assuming the government was democratically elected, the electorate can vote for a different government if they don't want another referendum.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Enough time has passed between the last referendum to have a new one. Besides its quite clear the public was sleeping during the first one.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

There are now two choices: Let the clock expire, and Britain is out of the EU, or obtain a delay long enough to hold a general election, handing the British people an opportunity to deal with the Remainers. Remainers will shriek at either option, but what can they ultimately do? Nullify the popular vote?

Yep. Parliament is sovereign. It can amend or revoke any law. It could vote to abolish the House of Lords or the monarchy. It can certainly ignore a referendum.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Parliament is sovereign. It can amend or revoke any law. It could vote to abolish the House of Lords or the monarchy. It can certainly ignore a referendum.

Better vote in the Brexit Party then if you want to save your country from the EU.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Are you suggesting that the original referendum to leave the EU was not legally binding?

Technically, not legally binding. You can argue that it was morality binding, however.

Remainers are currently defying the British people, whom they view with contempt.

Only 36% of eligible voters voted for Brexit. Hardly the will of the people.

The British people legally obligated Parliament to leave the EU by a specific date.

One statement, two errors. Parliament was neither obligated to leave or do so by a specific date. Did you not see the referendum question?

the British people should be merciless toward them

I think you mean the 36% (and shrinking) of the electorate. I think remain could put more on a march - younger, fitter, stronger.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Better vote in the Brexit Party then if you want to save your country from the EU.

Simply, that would be nuts, crazy or whatever word you want to call because the Brexit party have no policies other than the one to leave the EU.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Better vote in the Brexit Party then if you want to save your country from the EU.

What’s your take on the Brexit party’s policies regarding say, taxation, the NHS, education, defence, environment and energy?

Let us know and tell us why these are attractive policies.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

 Let the clock expire, and Britain is out of the EU,

Not Britain but the Post-Britain-Territories would be out of marmite, out of half of their grocery list...

Are you suggesting that the original referendum to leave the EU was not legally binding?

How could an impossible absurdity be binding ? 2 of the Nations very clearly voted remain. 2 voted leave. Which one is binding ? The leave or the remain ? Or each one goes where they want, NI reunifiying with Ireland and Scotland with Denmark ?

"dead in a ditch" 

So ? He's buried himself already ?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

because the Brexit party have no policies other than the one to leave the EU.

Less promises to break I suppose.

Only 36% of eligible voters voted for Brexit. Hardly the will of the people.

You need to be able to add 'who voted' on the end of this to make it relevant.

I think you mean the 36% (and shrinking) of the electorate.

The voting population is aging, and as we are often told that they are ones that voted for this then you could argue the opposite.

If Brexit is somehow avoided, it's just postponing the inevitable for another generation who will possibly be even less prepared. Britain was always destined to leave the EU, crack on with it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Better vote in the Brexit Party then if you want to save your country from the EU.

Uk wont have to save themselves from the EU theyll have to save themselves from themselves, UK economy is going to take a big hit after Brexit, the free ride is over no more 0% tarriffs for UK exports to the EU. 60% of current UK manufacturing is sold to the EU, do you think Trump is going to buy up all that surplus. LOL

1 ( +5 / -4 )

SerranoToday  06:36 pm JST

Better vote in the Brexit Party then...

Right, I'll just leave Japan and relocate to the UK so that I can vote. Did you actually know that British Citizens living overseas can't vote in UK elections?

if you want to save your country from the EU.

Not particularly. I'm not that interested in saving the UK from the EU and I don't think you are either. Brexit would be a "win" for your hero Mr. Trump, thus vindicating the rather creepy way you idolize him, and anything that destablised and weakened Western Europe would suit his dear pal Mr. Putin.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Are you suggesting that the original referendum to leave the EU was not legally binding?

It wasn't.

Johnson is a lame duck PM, he's also putting himself in contempt of Court with the ridiculous letters he has sent.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Did you actually know that British Citizens living overseas can't vote in UK elections?

I think that only applies after 15 years? Which includes me.

Britain does not need saving from the EU it needs saving from those who want to take the country out.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

zichiToday  08:45 pm JST

I think that only applies after 15 years? Which includes me.

I think you know better than me but in any case it includes me too. So I find suggestions that I vote for the Brexit Party a bit laughable.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"British citizens living abroad may vote in UK general elections, referendums and European Parliament elections for up to 15 years after leaving the UK. However, they may only do so if they were registered to vote in the UK while living there. British expatriates who were under 18 at the time of leaving the UK may vote as long as their parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK."

"British expatriates are not allowed to vote in local elections or in elections for the devolved Scottish Parliament or Welsh or Northern Irish Assemblies."

"In February 2018, the Overseas Electors Bill was presented to Parliament, with a view to abolishing the 15-year limit and the requirement to have registered to vote before leaving the UK."

That Bill failed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Strangerland - Non-binding referendum.

And yet there has been an incredible amount of time, money, energy, and manpower spent dealing with a referendum that you consider non-binding. There has 3 (three) PM's since this "non-binding" vote has taken place, and those changes were brought about because of this "non-binding" referendum.  Apparently the Brits don't agree with your assessment.

A democratic people held a democratic vote, and the results were to leave the E.U.. The only reason that they haven't left the E.U. has been the devious delaying action of some MP's who have chosen to ignore the will of the voters.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

you consider non-binding.

It's not a matter of opinion, but a fact. The referendum was not legally binding.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

arrestpaulToday  08:12 am JST

Strangerland - Non-binding referendum.

And yet there has been an incredible amount of time, money, energy, and manpower spent dealing with a referendum that you consider non-binding.

That's because none of the pro-Brexit politicians had the faintest idea what to do next, the wording of the 2016 referendum being so vague as to be totally useless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Simon Foston - That's because none of the pro-Brexit politicians had the faintest idea what to do next, the wording of the 2016 referendum being so vague as to be totally useless.

Useless to you perhaps. Maybe you are expecting the political parties to use the ramblings found on the internet as a guide for government action? It's the elected representatives of a so-called democracy who intend thwart the democratic will of the people who are responsible for undermining democracy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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