LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still at odds with Parliament over how to break the Brexit impasse, and the European Union is considering Johnson’s halfhearted request for a delay to the Oct. 31 deadline. There are things to look for in the coming days.
JOHNSON’S PUSH IN PARLIAMENT
The prime minister has endured a string of defeats in Parliament but he hopes to turn that around with one big triumph: a majority vote in favour of his new Brexit divorce deal. The numbers are tight and there’s a chance Johnson could prevail.
A vote is possible in the coming days, with the result uncertain. He also needs to enact the enabling legislation that would give the deal legal force.
If he can do that quickly, Britain either wouldn’t need an extension or would need only a very short “technical” extension measured in weeks, not months.
WHAT HAPPENS IF PARLIAMENT DOESN’T Co-operatE?
If Johnson can’t convince Parliament to quickly back the deal, it will be up to the EU to determine if it grants Britain another extension or sticks to the Oct. 31 date, which would mean the risky “no-deal” Brexit that many national leaders have been trying to avoid.
The EU isn’t expected to reveal its answer in the coming days but an extension is seen as the preferred choice for many of the bloc’s leaders despite their growing frustration with the stalemate in Parliament.
AN ELECTION IS LOOMING
Johnson has tried to call a national election with the goal of getting a new Parliament that would support his Brexit strategy, but the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, say they won’t okay an election until a Brexit extension has been put in place. If the EU grants the extension that Johnson has requested, an election may well take place in the next few months, with Johnson campaigning on a promise to deliver Brexit and blaming Parliament for blocking it.
An election may sound as if it would break the Brexit logjam, but it is possible no clear winner would emerge with a majority, so a new Parliament might be just as divided as this one.
Johnson complied with a law requiring him to seek a delay to the Oct. 31 deadline, but he followed his request with a letter to EU officials saying he didn’t really think a delay was a good idea.
That infuriated opponents who believe he deliberately tried to frustrate the will of Parliament. Activists who have brought a case against Johnson in Scotland plan to return to court Monday; the dispute may end up in Britain’s Supreme Court.