Drama in Britain as reluctant PM sends unsigned extension request letter to EU
London, Oct. 20, 2019 (AltAfrica)-British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has 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.
The prime minister sent two letters to European Council president Donald Tusk – an unsigned message relaying parliament’s request for an extension to Brexit and a letter from him setting out why he does not believe delay would be in the interests of the EU or UK..
Downing Street said it believes the move fulfils the requirements of the Benn Act, which required the prime minister to seek an extension beyond his 31 October deadline if he was unable to secure parliamentary approval of his Brexit deal by the end of Saturday.
“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.