Latest: Tusk confirms receipt of Brexit extension request from Johnson

European Council president Donald Tusk

Boris Johnson has tried to distance himself from a legally required request for a Brexit extension by stressing to the EU it was sent to Brussels at Parliament’s bidding.

After suffering an embarrassing defeat in the Commons over his Brexit plans, the British Prime Minister got a senior diplomat to send an unsigned photocopy of the call by MPs to delay withdrawal from the bloc.

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

The stance is likely to spark a fierce political row.

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

Mr Tusk Tweeted:

“The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react. #Brexit”

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

Asked if previous statements from ministers that the UK 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.”

ohnson writing to Tusk ‘to seek Brexit delay’

Boris Johnson has confirmed to European Council president Donald Tusk that he will be writing to him on Saturday night to seek a Brexit delay, the PA news agency understands.

The move comes after a defiant British Prime Minister told the Commons he will not negotiate a fresh Brexit extension with the EU despite suffering an embarrassing defeat in the UK Parliament.

"In a special Saturday sitting, the Commons voted by 322 to 306, majority 16, in favour of the amendment by the former Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin withholding approval until legislation to implement the deal is in place.

The vote on the Brexit deal between the UK and the EU was not held following the Letwin amendment."

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

In a letter to members of the Tory parliamentary party, the PM said: “I will tell the European Union what I have told the British public for my 88 days as Prime Minister: further delay is not a solution.”

He added: “It is quite possible that our friends in the European Union will reject Parliament’s request for a further delay (or not take a decision quickly).”

The PM also discussed the situation with French president Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.

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.

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

Further delay of Brexit 'not a solution' says Johnson in letter to MPs

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written a letter to MPs saying he will tell the EU that “further delay is not a solution”.

In his letter to all MPs and Peers, Mr Johnson wrote: “I have made clear that I do not want more delay. European leaders have made clear they do not want more delay. It is to my great regret that today the House has voted for more delay.

“The public want us to get Brexit done so the country can move on. The best thing for the United Kingdom and the European Union is for us to leave with this new deal on 31 October.”

Mr Johnson added: “I will not negotiate a delay with the European Union. I will tell the EU what I have told the British public for my 88 days as Prime Minister: further delay is not a solution.

“That is why next week this Government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the European Union with our great new deal on 31 October.

“It is quite possible that our friends in the European Union will reject Parliament’s request for further delay (or not take a decision quickly). In these circumstances, I hope colleagues on all sides of the House will — faced with a choice of our new deal or no deal — support this new deal.”

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has spoken to Mr Johnson following this afternoon’s vote in Parliament.

Mr Tusk tweeted: “Waiting for the letter.

“I just talked to PM Boris Johnson about the situation after the vote in the House of Commons.”

Here is the full text of Boris Johnson’s letter to MPs and Peers sent on Saturday night:

    Dear Colleague

    I wrote to you on Friday to outline why our new deal allows this country to take back control, get Brexit done and let the country move on.

    I have made clear that I do not want more delay. European leaders have made clear they do not want more delay. It is to my great regret that today the House has voted for more delay.

    The public want us to get Brexit done so the country can move on. The best thing for the United Kingdom and the European Union is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31.

    I will not negotiate a delay with the European Union. I will tell the EU what I have told the British public for my 88 days as Prime Minister: further delay is not a solution.

    That is why next week this Government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the European Union with our great new deal on October 31.

    It is quite possible that our friends in the European Union will reject Parliament’s request for further delay (or not take a decision quickly). In these circumstances, I hope colleagues on all sides of the House will — faced with a choice of our new deal or no deal — support this new deal.

    Colleagues, more than three years after the British people voted to leave the European Union, they expect us to finally deliver on our promises. They expect us to get Brexit done, so we can all move on and focus on the people’s priorities.

    I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31 so the country can move on — and I hope I can count on your support in doing so.

    Yours sincerely
    Boris Johnson

Defiant Boris Johnson says he will not seek new Brexit delay after Commons loss

A defiant Boris Johnson has said he will not negotiate a fresh Brexit delay with the EU despite losing a key Commons vote.

At a special Saturday sitting, MPs voted by 322 to 306 in favour an amendment withholding approval of his Brexit deal until legislation to implement it is in place.

The amendment tabled by former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin was intended to force him to comply with the so-called Benn Act requiring him to seek a Brexit extension.

But amid noisy Commons scenes, Mr Johnson insisted that he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the 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.

Downing Street refused to offer any explanation as to why the Prime Minister did not consider he was obliged to negotiate a fresh extension.

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

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Mr Johnson that he could not ignore the provisions of the Benn Act.

“It’s an emphatic decision by this House that has declined to back the Prime Minister’s deal today and clearly voted to stop a no-deal crash-out from the European Union,” he said.

“The Prime Minister must now comply with the law. He can no longer use the threat of a no-deal crash-out to blackmail members to support his sell-out deal.”

The SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford said that if Mr Johnson acted as if we was “above the law”, he would find himself in court.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said: “The most urgent thing right now is the Prime Minister complies with the law.”

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

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

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government was planning to give MPs a fresh chance to have a “meaningful vote” on the deal hammered out by Mr Johnson with Brussels on Monday.

Speaker John Bercow said he would rule on Monday whether it was in order for the Government to hold the vote after not pressing ahead with it on Saturday following its defeat on the Letwin amendment.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who brought the case which led to Mr Johnson’s suspension of Parliament being ruled unlawful, said they would continue to pursue the Prime Minister through the court to enforce the Benn Act.

“We’re back in court on Monday morning and it will be possible then to secure the court’s assistance if the Prime Minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court,” she told the Commons.

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

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government was planning to give MPs a fresh chance to have a “meaningful vote” on the deal hammered out by Mr Johnson with Brussels on Monday.

The voting took place as tens of thousands of protesters converged on central London in People’s Vote campaign march in support of a second referendum.

The result was greeted by loud cheers by the crowd assembled outside the Palace of Westminster in Parliament Square.

The Government was consigned to defeat after the 10 MPs of Mr Johnson’s erstwhile allies in the DUP joined the other opposition parties in voting the amendment.

The party is furious about the proposed customs arrangements for Northern Ireland which would see checks on good coming from the rest of the UK.

Ten former Conservative MPs who now sit as independents, including former cabinet ministers Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd, also backed the amendment.

In contrast just six Labour rebels voted against it.

Following the vote Mr Johnson said that he did not believe the other EU member states would be “attracted” to a further delay.

He said the Government would be tabling legislation next week to implement the terms of the agreement.

“I hope that then Honourable Members, faced with a choice of our new deal for the UK and the European Union, will change their minds because it was pretty close today,” he said.

“I hope that they will change their minds and support this deal in overwhelming numbers.

“I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31.”

Blow for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal as amendment passed

Boris Johnson’s hopes of getting Commons backing for his Brexit deal have hit a major stumbling block after MPs voted for an amendment which could force him to seek another delay.

But a defiant Mr Johnson responded to the vote by telling MPs: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.”

In a special Saturday sitting, the Commons voted by 322 to 306, majority 16, in favour of the amendment by the former Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin withholding approval until legislation to implement the deal is in place.

The vote on the Brexit deal between the UK and the EU was not held following the Letwin amendment.

Mr Letwin, one of the MPs to have the Tory whip withdrawn after rebelling on Brexit, said it was an “insurance policy” intended to ensure the UK cannot “crash out” of the EU on October 31 without a deal.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed Super Saturday (House of Commons/Jessica Taylor/PA)</figcaption>
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed Super Saturday (House of Commons/Jessica Taylor/PA)

Under the terms of the so-called Benn Act, if he does not have agreement on a deal on Saturday, the Prime Minister is required to seek a further extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process until the end of January.

Ministers have signalled that they will press ahead with plans to table the legislation next week with a view to securing Britain’s departure by the end of the month.

I will not negotiate a delay with the EU

Mr Johnson told the Commons after the vote: “It has been a very important debate, an exceptional moment for our country, an exceptional moment for our Parliament.

“Alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.

“But I wish the House to know that I am not daunted or dismayed by this particular result and I think it probably became likely once it became obvious that the amendment from my right honourable friend, the member for West Dorset was going to remain on the order paper.

“I continue in the very strong belief that the best thing for the UK, and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31, and to anticipate the questions that are coming from the benches opposite, I will not negotiate a delay with the EU.”

The Prime Minister must now comply with the law

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn replied: “I welcome today’s vote. It’s an emphatic decision by this house that has declined to back the Prime Minister’s deal today, and clearly voted to stop a no-deal crash out from the European Union.

“The Prime Minister must now comply with the law. He can no longer use the threat of a no-deal crash out to blackmail members to support his sell out deal.”