EU moves toward Brexit delay as Johnson pauses legislation

October 23, 2019 09:32
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons in London on Tuesday. Photo: UK parliament handout via Reuters

EU leaders should delay Brexit after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paused legislation on his deal following a parliamentary defeat, EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

In another day of Brexit drama in the 800-year-old Westminster seat of power, lawmakers handed Johnson a victory by signaling their support for his deal in an early legislative hurdle.

But that was overshadowed just minutes later when lawmakers defeated him on his timetable to rush the legislation through the House of Commons in just three days, prompting the government to say it would pause the legislative process, the report said.

Tusk recommended late on Tuesday evening that the leaders of the remaining 27 member states back a delay.

“In order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension,” he said on Twitter.

It is now for the rest of the bloc to decide whether the Oct. 31 deadline should be pushed back to the end of January as requested by Johnson in a letter he was forced to send on Saturday by British lawmakers.

France is ready to grant an additional few days in order to facilitate parliament’s vote but rules out any extension beyond that, a diplomatic source told Reuters.

Johnson had hoped to make the delay request unnecessary by passing the Brexit law fast enough to leave on time.

A source in his Downing Street office told Reuters that there is now need for a fresh election.

“If parliament’s delay is agreed by Brussels, then the only way the country can move on is with an election,” the source said.

On Tuesday, lawmakers did vote by 329 to 299 in favor of the second reading of the legislation for the Brexit deal - still no guarantee of success since the bill could be amended by lawmakers who want changes.

They then opposed by 322 to 308 votes Johnson’s extremely tight timetable.

“I must express my disappointment that the House has yet again voted for delay,” Johnson told parliament.

“I will speak to EU member states about their intentions, until they have reached a decision we will pause this legislation,” Johnson said after the parliamentary votes.

“Let me be clear, our policy remains that we should not delay.”

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