Johnson, Reluctantly, Asks the EU to Postpone Brexit

  • Parliament was convened to vote on Johnson's new deal in a rare Saturday session.
  • “The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” Tusk tweeted late Saturday night.
  • Johnson once said he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than ask the EU for more time.

According to BBC News, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent a request to the EU to postpone Brexit, but without signing it. It strongly indicates that Johnson only asked for the postponement reluctantly.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, commonly informally referred to as the Benn Act, is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that requires the Prime Minister of the UK to seek an extension to the Brexit withdrawal date—currently scheduled for 31 October 2019—in certain circumstances. The main provisions of the Act are triggered if the House of Commons does not give its consent to either a withdrawal agreement or leaving without a deal by 19 October 2019.

The British House of Commons, in a rare Saturday session, convened to vote on the Brexit deal put forward by the Prime Minister. However, before the deal itself could be tabled for a vote, an amendment was proposed, scuttling the plans of Johnson and the other Brexiteers.

In the meantime, the EU President, Donald Tusk, has confirmed having received a letter from Johnson formally requesting a postponement of Brexit. He did so on Twitter. “The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” Tusk tweeted late Saturday night.

Boris Johnson had all along expressed reluctance to ask the EU for another postponement of Brexit. In fact, he was once quoted as having said that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond October 31. According to a section of the international media, Johnson refused to sign the letter Parliament forced him to send to the EU, insisted Brexit will happen by October 31, and sent a second letter (which he signed) saying a second delay would be a mistake.

Sir Oliver Letwin is a British politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for West Dorset since 1997. Letwin sits as an independent, having been elected as a member of the Conservative Party before having the whip removed in September 2019.

According to a government source, the letter was just a copy of a text from the Benn Act, which dictates that the Prime Minister must ask the EU for a further postponement of Brexit if Parliament did not approve either a deal or a no-deal Brexit by Saturday. Following the rejection of his latest deal, Johnson was legally required to send the request for a postponement to January 31, 2020.

The lower house was called in to vote on the revised Brexit deal that Johnson had negotiated in place with the EU. Before the deal itself could come to a vote, an amendment was proposed by Oliver Letwin, an MP who was booted out of the Conservative caucus last month by Johnson. A narrow majority in the House of Commons adopted the amendment, and thus Johnson was compelled to postpone the date of Brexit.

Johnson continues to hope that all legislation and, not least, the Brexit agreement itself can be passed in the House of Commons by October 31, allowing the British to exit the EU with an agreement on this date. If it seems unlikely that it will happen by the end of the month, the assessment is that the EU will step in and postpone withdrawal. This will prevent a Brexit without a deal on 31 October.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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