Boris Johnson Defiant After UK Parliament Votes To Delay Brexit ... Again
A defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not negotiate a further delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union after losing a vote in parliament that means he is obliged to request a postponement.
The move by parliament, on a day Johnson had pitched as a day of reckoning for Brexit, increases the chances that the divorce will be delayed and thus increases the opportunity for opponents of Brexit to frustrate the United Kingdom’s departure.
Parliament voted 322 to 306 in favor of a 26-word amendment that turned Johnson’s Brexit finale on its head by leaving the prime minister exposed to a humiliating obligation to ask the EU for a delay until the end of January 2020.
“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so,” Johnson told parliament.
“I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I have told everyone else in the last 88 days that I have served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”
While Johnson did not explicitly refuse to send a letter to the EU requesting the delay -- as an earlier law passed by his opponents demands -- he said he would not negotiate.
That opens up a path to a new Brexit drama over a delay that could pull in lawyers, courts, the European Union and the divided British parliament.
Saturday’s amendment, put forward by former Conservative cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, deflated Johnson’s big Brexit day just as hundreds of thousands gathered to march on parliament demanding another referendum on EU membership.
After several hours of heated debate, senior politicians -- including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott -- were escorted from parliament past jeering demonstrators by phalanxes of police.
The European Commission said Britain must now inform it of its next steps as soon as possible.
French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson a delay was in no-one’s interest, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.
Ireland believes granting an extension is preferable to Britain leaving with no deal, but there is no guarantee that view is shared throughout the EU, its foreign minister said.