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Boris Follows Parliament's Orders. And Breaks Them.

Britain's prime minister asks, and doesn't ask, for a Brexit extension
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2019 5:10 PM CDT
Anti-Brexit demonstrators carry placards and EU flags in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister...   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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(Newser) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson grudgingly asked the European Union late Saturday to delay Brexit after the British Parliament postponed a decision on whether to back his divorce deal, the AP reports. But the defiant Johnson also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the UK's exit, scheduled for Oct. 31. A law passed by Parliament last month set a late-night deadline for the government to send a letter asking the EU for a three-month postponement if lawmakers had not approved an agreement with the bloc by Saturday. An hour before the deadline, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: "The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react." Johnson made clear he was making the request under duress.

The letter was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would "damage the interests if the UK and our EU partners." Earlier in the day, Johnson had told lawmakers 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." Lawmakers voted 322-306 to withhold their approval of the Brexit deal until legislation to implement it has been passed.

(Read more Brexit stories.)

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