Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

LONDON — A defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that he would resist attempts to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union 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 Oct. 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 has until 11 p.m. Saturday 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.”

French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to agree. Macron’s office said he spoke to Johnson by phone and insisted on the need for “quick clarification of the British position on the accord.” The president’s office said Macron indicated to the British prime minister that “a delay would be in no one’s interest.”

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 U.K. 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 scrutinize — 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 U.K. can leave on time.

The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the government would hold a debate Monday 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.

Despite Johnson’s vow not to “negotiate” a Brexit delay, the government has said it will comply with a law passed by Parliament last month ordering it to request an extension if a deal has not been approved by Saturday.

Opposition lawmakers warned that Johnson must ask for the Brexit extension or face legal consequences.

“Any failure of a prime minister who thinks he is above the law — well, prime minister, you’ll find yourself in court,” said Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party.

The vote was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators who marched to Parliament Square, demanding a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU or remain. Protesters, many wearing blue berets emblazoned with yellow stars symbolizing the EU flag, poured out of subways and buses for the last-ditch effort.

“Another chance for sanity and perhaps rationality to take over, rather than emotion,” filmmaker Jove Lorenty said as he stood outside Parliament. “Never give up until the fat lady sings. No one knows what will happen, but we have hope.”

Johnson, who came to power in July vowing to get Brexit finished, called any delay to Britain’s departure pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust.” And he warned that the bloc’s approval could not be guaranteed.

“There is very little appetite among our friends in the EU for this business to be protracted by one extra day,” Johnson said. “They have had three and a half years of this debate.”

EU leaders have made the same point. Macron said Friday that “the Oct. 31 date must be respected. I don’t believe new delays should be granted.”

The EU was guarded in its response to Saturday’s vote.

“It will be for the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva tweeted.

When push comes to shove, the EU seems likely to grant an extension if needed to avoid a disruptive no-deal Brexit.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country saw the vote as a delay, rather than a rejection of the Brexit deal. For EU leaders, avoiding a chaotic, no-deal Brexit should be the “top priority,” he said in a tweet.

And the European Parliament’s chief Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt, noted that time was now tight to get the deal approved by the EU legislature before Oct. 31, meaning a short delay might be needed.

If Parliament approves the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in time, Britain could still leave by the end of October. The government plans to introduce the bill next week and could hold late-night sittings of Parliament in hope of getting it passed within days.

But Johnson must win over a fractious and divided Parliament, which three times rejected the Brexit plan negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May.

His hopes of getting the deal through Parliament were dealt a blow when his Northern Ireland ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, said it would not back him. The party says Johnson’s Brexit package — which carves out special status for Northern Ireland to keep an open border with EU member Ireland — is bad for the region and weakens its bonds with the rest of the U.K.

To make up for the votes of 10 DUP lawmakers, Johnson has tried to persuade members of the left-of-centre Labour Party to support the deal. Late Friday, the government promised to bolster protections for the environment and workers’ rights to allay Labour fears that the Conservative government plans to slash those protections after Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed the prime minister’s promises as inadequate.

“This deal is not good for jobs, damaging for industry and a threat to our environment and natural world,” he said. “Supporting the government this afternoon would merely fire the starting pistol in a race to the bottom in regulations and standards.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

Johnson says he will resist any Brexit delay beyond Oct. 31

Just Posted

(File photo by Advocate staff)
Zero tax increase approved by Red Deer city council for 2021 and 2022

City council passed operating budgets for the next two years on Thursday

Red Deer city council approved a $39.6 million police budget for 2021, up for inflationary reasons from $37.9 million in 2020. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council retains police funding, while also launching a crisis team

De-funding police is not a conversation in this municipality

Alberta reported an additional 1,854 cases of COVID-19 Thursday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories)
Red Deer has 289 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

The Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre in Red Deer has new owners. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer has new ownership group

‘They’re making an investment in this iconic hotel for the future,’ says general manager Gil Vallee

The new Gasoline Alley Farmers Market officially opened on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Gasoline Alley brewery a collaboration between brewers and farmers

Red Deer County’s newest brewery has been built from the ground up… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

In this photo provided by the United Nations, Volkan Bozkir, President of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, chairs the General Assembly: General Debate, during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at UN headquarters in New York. The U.N.'s first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from some of the planet's biggest powers, kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic that will likely be a dominant theme at their video gathering this year. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo via AP)
UN chief: Vaccine can’t undo damage from global pandemic

UN chief: Vaccine can’t undo damage from global pandemic

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984." The film isn't skipping theaters or moving to 2021, but it is altering course. The last big blockbuster holdout of 2020 is still opening in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day but it will also be made available to HBO Max subscribers free of charge for its first month, Warner Bros. said Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros Pictures via AP)
In seismic shift, Warner Bros. to stream all 2021 films

In seismic shift, Warner Bros. to stream all 2021 films

Shawn Mendes is shown in a scene from "In Wonder" in this handout photo. Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes says the much buzzed-about shower scene that opens his new Netflix documentary was a result of great trust between himself and the director. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Netflix *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Shawn Mendes says ‘In Wonder’ shower scene was a result of great trust with director

Shawn Mendes says ‘In Wonder’ shower scene was a result of great trust with director

Elliot Page poses for photographs on the red carpet for the movie 'Freeheld ' during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, in Toronto, on Sunday, September 13, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Elliot Page coming out offers historic visibility for trans and non-binary community

Elliot Page coming out offers historic visibility for trans and non-binary community

Patrick Guimond, owner of One Eleven Grill, has made a desperate plea to the premier to help restaurants who are struggling with the new COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
700 reservations cancelled: Red Deer business owner makes impassioned plea to Premier

Patrick Guimond had simply reached a tipping point. The owner of One… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency building is seen in Ottawa, Monday April 6, 2020. Opposition MPs pressed officials Thursday to say how pared they are to begin collecting GST on sales by foreign companies such as Netflix, AirbnB and Amazon starting next year, as proposed by the Liberal government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs probe officials on ability to collect GST from Netflix, other foreign companies

MPs probe officials on ability to collect GST from Netflix, other foreign companies

An Airbnb logo is shown during an event in San Francisco on Feb. 22, 2018. Airbnb says it has a plan to curb New Year’s Eve parties this year in the wake of COVID-19, after a short-term rental was the site of a 60-person party in Mississauga last weekend. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eric Risberg.
Airbnb rolls out restrictions in Canada to prevent New Year’s Eve parties

Airbnb rolls out restrictions in Canada to prevent New Year’s Eve parties

Bay Street in Canada's financial district is shown in Toronto on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
S&P/TSX composite again creeps higher as investors digest solid November gains

S&P/TSX composite again creeps higher as investors digest solid November gains

Most Read