London, Oct 19 (AFP/APP): The British parliament may end up forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request another Brexit delay on Saturday and give only provisional support to his divorce deal with the European Union.
An amendment penned by former government minister Oliver Letwin would have the effect of forcing Johnson to write a letter to Brussels requesting an extension of the Brexit deadline until January 31 of next year.
Johnson is currently required to ask for an extension if parliament votes down the revised withdrawal agreement he struck with EU leaders in Brussels this week. But Letwin’s amendment, which was selected by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow for a vote, would decline to approve Johnson’s deal in full “unless and until” every other part of the formal Withdrawal Agreement Bill is passed.
Johnson hopes to introduce the formal bill next week once MPs have voted on Saturday’s political agreement. Letwin backs Johnson’s agreement but is concerned that lawmakers might fail to push through the required Brexit implementation mechanism by the October 31 deadline.
This would, theoretically, result in a “no-deal” departure from the EU at the end of the month — a scenario his amendment is designed to avoid.
The amendment “is to keep in place the insurance policy… which prevents us from crashing out automatically if there is no deal in place by October 31”, Letwin said, introducing the measure in the Commons. He said that any votes on the withdrawal act legislation would be tight.
Johnson wants to say to waverers “it’s my deal or no deal. Vote for the implementing legislation or we crash out”, said Letwin.
“We can’t be sure that such a threat from the prime minister would work. “So I’m moving this amendment to ensure that whichever way any future votes may go… we can be secure in the knowledge that the UK will have requested an extension tonight, which, if granted, can be used if, and to the extent necessary — and only the extent necessary — to prevent a no-deal exit.”