MPs postpone vote on deal, Johnson refuses to negotiate postponement

The analysis of Cécile Ducourtieux, our correspondent in London

And now, what will happen?

The amendment Letwin supposed to provide an additional guarantee against a "no deal", October 31, has passed, with 322 votes for and 306 against. The British prime minister must now comply with the "Benn Act", a law passed against his will by a majority of parliamentarians "Remainer" (anti-Brexit) in early September.

So what exactly does this text say?

The Prime Minister must seek an extension of Article 50 (Brexit negotiating period) from the European Council 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 Boris Johnson 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 is very unlikely, especially as the Prime Minister has 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 31st"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.

The letter to be sent by the Prime Minister should be addressed to the President of the Council, Donald Tusk, and explicitly request a postponement of Brexit ("an extension of Article 50) to 31 January 2020. Some British sources suggest that the letter could not to be signed by Boris Johnson himself but by his ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, which would allow the prime minister not to lose face.

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


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