Boris Johnson forced to request a postponement in Brussels

The British Prime Minister's plan to adopt the agreement with the EU was thwarted by MEPs. But Mr. Johnson remains committed to voting this text in the coming days.

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On Saturday, October 19, members of the House of Commons inflicted a new setback on Boris Johnson. House of Commons / AP

The long-awaited vote on the agreement reached by Boris Johnson and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday did not finally take place. On Saturday, October 19, members of the House of Commons inflicted a blow on the British prime minister. "BoJo" was indeed thwarted by a member of his own camp, Oliver Letwin, who passed – 322 votes to 306 against – an amendment that complicates his plans singularly.

Read also Oliver Letwin, the man behind the amendment that disrupted Boris Johnson's plan

This amendment compels Boris Johnson to request a postponement of Brexit until all the legislation necessary to implement the agreement he has won in Brussels has been adopted.

After the announcement of the vote, Boris Johnson reacted by recalling his determination to leave his country of the EU at all costs October 31, ensuring not wanting "Negotiate a postponement" with the 27. He regretted that the historic vote that was scheduled Saturday on his divorce agreement with Brussels is now "Emptied of its meaning".

The European Commission has "Taken note" Saturday of the vote of the British deputies and respondent to the government of Boris Johnson to give him the way forward " as soon as possible ". "It will be up to the British government to inform us about the next steps", reacted in a tweet Mina Andreeva, spokesperson for the European executive.

For its part, the Elysée said that a "Extra time is in nobody's interest" : "An agreement has been negotiated, it is now up to the British Parliament to say whether it approves or rejects it. You need a vote on the substance "reminded the French presidency.

  • And now, what will happen?

The British prime minister must now comply with Benn Act, this law voted against its will by a majority of parliamentarians "Remainers" (anti-Brexit) early September.

This means that, legally, it must seek to obtain from the European Council an extension of Article 50 (Brexit negotiating period) (…), by sending a letter to the President of the European Council calling for this extension, before 11 pm Saturday 19 October (midnight Brussels time).

Will the Prime Minister send this letter? During his short and very firm speech on Saturday afternoon, in the wake of the vote, he just said: "I will not negotiate a deadline".

  • What if Boris Johnson did not send a letter tonight, calling for a postponement of Brexit until January 31, 2020?

This scenario seems unlikely, as the Prime Minister produced a written declaration in the Scottish High Court that he would respect the Benn Act. But by dint of saying that Brexit "Will take place on October 31"he has sown doubt in the minds of many politicians and commentators. If he did not send the letter before 11 pm he would in any case be in breach of British law.

Also, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons said Saturday at the end of the day that he could by order of a judge or on instruction of the deputies, write the letter itself.

  • Where is the "Remain" camp?

For those hoping for a new referendum, the Letwin amendment is a welcome time-saver. As MPs gathered, hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of London, clinging to one last hope of holding a second referendum. There were probably a few fewer people than the million people in March 2019, but it is impossible to confirm with certainty, in the absence of official counting. This mobilization seemed however that of the last hope.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also For the anti-Brexit, the manifestation of the last hope


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