Brexit Update: Johnsons Asks for Extension (sort of)
Johnson has this weekend done, what he said he wouldn’t do. Sort of. He asked for an extension, and he also kind of didn’t. Sounds complicated, right? It might be.
(Not) Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Based on the Benn Act, Boris Johnson had to ask for an extension. About an hour before the deadline he sent the EU a letter in with that extension request, but he didn’t sign it. This immediately raises questions as to the validity of the request. There was a second letter accompanying the request which Johnson did sign. In that letter, he stated that approving the requested extension would be a mistake. A third letter, for the UK representative in Brussels further stated that the Brittish Government was obligated to ask for the extension.
The prime minister was legally required to request this delay under the so-called “Benn Act”. The legislation was passed by opposition MPs in September to prevent a no-deal Brexit at the end of this month.
Read more on Sky News here.
How Will the EU Respond?
Tusk is now consulting the other EU leaders as to how to respond to the request, as Politico reports:
An EU official, commenting on the phone call between Johnson and Tusk about the expected letter requesting an extension, said the European Council president “will on that basis start consulting EU leaders on how to react. This may take a few days.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said at Friday’s European Council summit that he did not think there should be a Brexit extension.
After the vote, an Elysée official said: “It is not up to us to comment at this stage [and when we will] it will be done in consultation with our European partners. But our message is clear: A deal was negotiated, it is now up to the British parliament to say whether it accepts it or rejects it. There needs to be a British vote on substance without delay because a slipping of the calendar is in the interest of no one.”
Read the full article here.
Another Vote Today
For now, the EU will await the results of the vote planned for this afternoon, where the British MPs will probably take another vote on the deal Johnson agreed on with the EU. At least, that is what Johnson is pusing for. Waiting for that votes makes sense. If the deal is approved, a short extension of Brexit is enough. If the deal is voted down, a much longer extension is needed.
Follow the proceedings in the British Parliament via the Guardian Live Blog here.