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14 Nov 2019 15:12
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  •   Home > News > International

    Brexit delay request sent to EU, along with letter from Boris Johnson arguing against it

    The British Prime Minister formally asks the European Union for a delay to Brexit — but also sends another letter arguing against it.

    The British Government has formally asked the European Union for a delay to Brexit — but also sent a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson arguing against it.

    Mr Johnson was forced to request an extension after Parliament voted to delay a decision on whether to back his Brexit deal.

    A law passed last month compelled the Government to try and postpone Britain's departure if no deal was agreed to by Saturday night (local time).

    British media said Mr Johnson made it clear in the correspondence that he personally opposed an extension, with the Prime Minister previously saying he would rather be "dead in a ditch" before asking for a delay.

    The letter asking for the extension was not signed.

    It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Mr Johnson, arguing that delay would "damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners".

    EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted late on Saturday: "The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react."

    Sitting in Parliament on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, MPs voted to postpone a decision on whether to back a Brexit deal, with the EU withholding their approval until detailed legislation to implement the agreement has been passed.

    Mr Johnson said he would introduce the legislation to Parliament early next week.

    The Prime Minister said he would press on with his Brexit strategy "undaunted", despite the setback.

    "The best thing for the UK and the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on 31 October," he told the House of Commons after the vote for the amendment, which passed 322 to 306.

    "I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.

    "I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I have told everyone in the last 88 days I have served as Prime Minister; that further delay will be bad for this country, bad for the EU and bad for democracy."

    Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the "emphatic decision" from MPs.

    "[Mr Johnson] can no longer use the threat of a no-deal crash-out to blackmail MPs to support his sell-out deal," the Labour leader said after the vote.

    Thousands march for second referendum

    While MPs debated inside the Palace of Westminster, hundreds of thousands gathered outside in Parliament Square to demand a second referendum on Mr Johnson's Brexit deal.

    Among the crowd was Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart, and cheers erupted when the crowd heard Mr Johnson had lost the vote.

    Sir Patrick, 79, later addressed the crowd, saying there was "nothing democratic" about the 2016 referendum.

    "People weren't just misled, they were lied to," he said.

    But pro-Brexit protesters also gathered outside the houses of Parliament to call for the 2016 referendum to be honoured.

    One, who gave his name as James, told the ABC the vote result was "disappointing but not surprising".

    "I think it's a shame that here in the heart of Westminster, the beacon of democracy the world over, is now looking more shaky than it ever could do," he said.

    "There's been a lot of political chicanery by the other side because we've got a parliament that wants to remain and we've got a people that wants to leave."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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