Boris Johnson’s unsigned letter to European Council President Donald Tusk

Boris Johnson has sent a letter to EU leaders asking for a delay to the Brexit deadline - but has also told them he doesn't want one.

The British Prime Minister said he would not negotiate a Brexit delay with the EU, after MPs voted in favour of an extension by a majority of 16.

The British Prime Minister got a senior diplomat to send an unsigned photocopy of the call by MPs to delay withdrawal from the bloc.

The stance is likely to spark a fierce political row.

The move came after a defiant Prime Minister told the Commons he will not negotiate a fresh Brexit extension with the EU.

Mr Johnson rang European leaders, including Mr Tusk, declaring that the letter “is Parliament’s letter, not my letter”.

In a second note to European Council president Donald Tusk, the PM said a Brexit extension would be “deeply corrosive”.

The development came as Mr Johnson wrote to all Tory MPs and peers insisting that he will tell Brussels a further Brexit delay is “not a solution” to the situation.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>A letter written by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs saying he will tell the EU that ‘further delay is not a solution’ (Downing Street/PA)</figcaption>
A letter written by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs saying he will tell the EU that ‘further delay is not a solution’ (Downing Street/PA)

Amid noisy Commons scenes, Mr Johnson insisted that he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the vote result, and remained committed to taking Britain out by October 31.

“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, neither does the law compel me to do so,” he said.

Asked if previous statements from ministers that the Government would comply with the law as it still stood, the British Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “governments comply with the law.”

The European Commission’s chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva urged the UK Government “to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible”.

The Benn Act set a deadline of 11pm on Saturday for Mr Johnson to get a deal if the UK is to leave on October 31, otherwise he is supposed to seek an extension.

Full text of the letter sent by Boris Johnson to European Council President Donald Tusk to meet the requirements of the Benn Act

Dear Mr President,

The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on October 31, 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on January, 31 2020.

I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on January 31, 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Unsigned letter from Boris Johnson to Donald Tusk (UK Government/PA)</figcaption>
Unsigned letter from Boris Johnson to Donald Tusk (UK Government/PA)

Boris Johnson's personal letter to Donald Tusk in full

Dear Donald

It was good to see you again at the European Council this week where we agreed the historic new deal to permit the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on October 31.

I am deeply grateful to you, President Juncker and to all my fellow European leaders for the statesmanship and statecraft which enabled us to achieve this historic milestone. I should also register my appreciation for Michel Barnier and his team for their imagination and diplomacy as we concluded the negotiations.

When I spoke in Parliament this morning, I noted the corrosive impact of the long delay in delivering the mandate of the British people from the 2016 referendum. I made clear that, while I believe passionately that both the UK and the EU will benefit from our decision to withdraw and develop a new relationship, that relationship will be founded on our deep respect and affection for our shared culture, civilisation, values and interests.

We will remain the EU's closest partner and friend. The deal we approved at last week's European Council is a good deal for the whole of the UK and the whole of the EU.

Regrettably, Parliament missed the opportunity to inject momentum into the ratification process for the new Withdrawal Agreement. The UK Parliament Representative will therefore submit the request mandated by the EU (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019 later today.

It is, of course, for the European Council to decide when to consider the request and whether to grant it. In view of the unique circumstances, while I regret causing my fellow leaders to devote more of their time and energy to a question I had hoped we had resolved last week, I recognise that you may need to convene a European Council.

If it would be helpful to you, I would of course be happy to attend the start of any A50 Council so that I could answer properly any question on the position of HM Government and progress in the ratification process at that time.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>(PA Graphics)</figcaption>
(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, although I would have preferred a different result today, the Government will press ahead with ratification and introduce the necessary legislation early next week. I remain confident that we will complete that process by 31 October.

Indeed, many of those who voted against the Government today have indicated their support for the new deal and for ratifying it without delay. I know that I can count on your support and that of our fellow leaders to move the deal forward, and I very much hope therefore that on the EU side also, the process can be completed to allow the agreement to enter into force, as the European Council Conclusions mandated.

While it is open to the European Council to accede to the request mandated by Parliament or to offer an alternative extension period, I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister, and made clear to Parliament again today, my view, and the Government's position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us.

We must bring this process to a conclusion so that we can move to the next phase and build our new relationship on the foundations of our long history as neighbours and friends in this continent our peoples share. I am passionately committed to that endeavour.

I am copying this letter to Presidents Juncker and Sassoli, and to members of the European Council.

Yours sincerely

Boris Johnson