Thu | Nov 21, 2019

UK lawmakers vote to delay final Brexit decision again

Published:Sunday | October 20, 2019 | 12:16 AM

Supporters of Britain remaining in the European Union take part in a ‘People’s Vote’ protest march calling for another referendum on Britain’s EU membership, in London.
Supporters of Britain remaining in the European Union take part in a ‘People’s Vote’ protest march calling for another referendum on Britain’s EU membership, in London.

London (AP):

A defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that he would resist attempts to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) beyond the end of the month, after Parliament postponed a decision on whether to back his Brexit deal and ordered the government to ask the EU for more time.

Johnson said he still aimed to meet the October 31 deadline and would tell EU leaders that delaying Brexit is a bad idea. The bloc said it would wait to hear from the British government about what it wanted to do next. The government had until 11:00 last night to send a letter asking the EU for a three-month postponement.

“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so,” Johnson said. “I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I’ve told everyone in the last 88 days that I’ve served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”

Rare weekend sitting

At a rare weekend sitting of Parliament, lawmakers voted 322-306 to withhold their approval of the Brexit deal until legislation to implement it has been passed.

The vote sought to ensure that the UK cannot crash out of the EU without a divorce deal on the scheduled departure date. Johnson, who struck the agreement with the EU earlier this week, said he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the result and would continue to do all he can to get Brexit done in less than two weeks.

Parliament’s first weekend sitting since the Falklands War of 1982 had been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’. It looked set to bring Britain’s Brexit saga to a head, more than three years after the country’s divisive decision to leave the EU.

But the government’s hopes were derailed when House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said he would allow a vote on an amendment to put the vote on the deal off until another day.

The amendment makes support for the deal conditional on passage of the legislation to implement it, something that could take several days or weeks. It also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinise – and possibly change – the Brexit departure terms while the legislation is in Parliament.

The government still hopes it can pass the needed legislation by the end of the month so the UK can leave on time.

The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the government would hold a debate tomorrow on its Brexit-implementing legislation – effectively a second attempt to secure approval for the deal.

It’s unclear whether that would be allowed under House of Commons rules against holding repeated votes on the same question. Bercow said he would make a ruling Monday.