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PM accepts extension offered by EU

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written a letter to EU President Donald Tusk accepting an extension to the period allowed under Article 50(3) to January 31 2020.



The Prime Minister

28 October 2019

Dear Donald

I refer to the draft European Council Decision EUCO XT 20024/1/19 REV 1, which extends to 31 January 2020 the period under Article 50 TEU. As you are well aware, I have no discretion under the UK’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, which was imposed on this Government against its will, to do anything other than confirm the UK’s formal agreement to this extension, as per the attached draft Decision.

I must make clear my view that this unwanted prolongation of the UK’s membership of the EU is damaging to our democracy and to the relationship between us and our European friends. While we will of course not seek to deliberately disrupt the EU’s business, I must underline that I continue to have a responsibility as Prime Minister to protect the UK’s national interests during this period, including in EU decision-making.

I would have much preferred it if the UK Parliament could have proceeded rapidly to ratify the deal we reached between us. Unfortunately I very much fear that this Parliament will never do so as long as it has the option of further delay. That is why I am seeking a General Election in December to ensure the election of a fresh Parliament which is capable of resolving the issue in accordance with our constitutional norms.

But, in case Parliament resists this too, I would also urge EU Member States to make clear that a further extension after 31 January is not possible. This is plenty of time to ratify our deal. It will avoid this Parliament simply extending our membership again and again, distracting from the good conduct of the business of the European Union, and corroding public trust in politics in the UK.

I very much hope that we can soon put this difficult period behind us, and move forward rapidly to ending our EU membership and beginning the negotiations on the future Free Trade Agreement and the future partnership of friends which will come with it.

I am copying this letter to members of the European Council, the President of the Commission and the President of the European Parliament.

Yours sincerely

Boris Johnson

Letter sent from the UK to the EU

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Following the debate and vote in the House of Commons on 19 October, it was necessary for the Prime Minister to send a letter, dictated by Parliament in the recent “Surrender Act” (European Union (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019) fast-tracked through Parliament, to the EU requesting an extension, under Article 50, until 31 January 2020. There was no additional information enclosed, or required, detailing what the extension was actually for.

A letter was sent, as required on 19 October 2019, to the EU Council with a cover letter from Sir Tim Barrow, United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the European Union

Covering letter :

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/840666/Cover letter from Sir Tim Barrow (pdf)

Letter to the EU from UK Parliament:

Note: this letter is identical to the details included in the Surrender Act and as required by law. There was no order demanding that the letter was signed and was sent unsigned.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/840665/Letter from UK to EU Council (pdf)

PM Statement in HOC following debate on 19 Oct 2019

Following the vote in the House of Commons on Saturday 19 October 2019 which rendered the Meaningful vote Meaningless, the PM made a statement.


Mr Speaker, I am very grateful to you, I am very grateful to the House of Commons staff, everybody who’s put themselves out, everybody who has come to give up their time in this debate today. It’s 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 been effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning. But I wish the House to know that I’m not daunted or dismayed by this particular result and I think it probably became likely once it was 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, and neither does the law compel me to do so. I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I’ve told everyone in the last 88 days that I’ve served as Prime Minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.

So next week the Government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the EU with our new deal on October 31. And I hope that our European Union colleagues and friends will not be attracted as the benches opposite are by delay. I don’t think they’ll be attracted by delay.

And I hope that then Honourable Members faced with a choice of our new deal, our new deal for the UK and the European Union, will change their minds because it was pretty close today. I hope that they will change their minds and support this deal in overwhelming numbers.

Since I became Prime Minister I’ve said we must get on and get Brexit done on October 31 so that this country can move on. Mr Speaker, that policy remains unchanged, no delays, and I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31 and I continue to commend this excellent deal, Mr Speaker, to the House.

ref: Hansard

Another waste of time ?

The historic sitting of Parliament on Saturday 19 October 2019 was yet another damp squib with MPs, yet again, failing to reach a conclusion on Brexit.

With the majority of MPs in Parliament still in favour of NO BREXIT they managed to force through yet another delay rather than accepting or rejecting the current “new” Withdrawal Agreement.

Are they hoping that people will eventually get fed up and say “Lets Stay”?

The motion put to MPs for debate was

That, in light of the new deal agreed with the European Union, which enables the United Kingdom to respect the result of the referendum on its membership of the European Union and to leave the European Union on 31 October with a deal, and for the purposes of section 1(1)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 and section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, this House approves the negotiated withdrawal agreement titled Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and the framework for the future relationship titled Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom that the United Kingdom has concluded with the European Union under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, as well as a Declaration by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the operation of the Democratic consent in Northern Ireland provision of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, copies of these three documents which were laid before this House on Saturday 19 October.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, selected amendment (a) in the name of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) to this Motion.

The second motion would also be considered during the debate

That this House approves the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on exit day, without a withdrawal agreement as defined in section 20(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

During the debate, Oliver Letwin proposed his amendment

amendment (a), in motion 1, leave out from “with a deal,” to end and add

“this House has considered the matter but withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation is passed.”

Amendment (a) has been tabled in my name and those of many other right hon. and hon. Members, and I do not need to detain the House for long. The purpose of the amendment, as has been said in several interventions and speeches, is to keep in place the insurance policy provided by the Benn Act that prevents us from automatically crashing out if no deal is in place by 31 October.

If passed, the amendment changes the motion being voted on completely and indicates that MPs are withholding approval of the deal (at least for today!)

Following debate a vote on the amendment was taken:

Results were 322 in favour of the amendment with 306 against.

(Statistically, Turnout: 628 votes cast, 51.27% in favour, 48.73% against – perhaps they should have a second vote ?)

Thus, Amendment (a) agreed to.

The Main Question, as amended, was put and agreed to without a further vote as follows:

That, in light of the new deal agreed with the European Union, which enables the United Kingdom to respect the result of the referendum on its membership of the European Union and to leave the European Union on 31 October with a deal, this House has considered the matter but withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation is passed.

Thus the day ended with no further progress towards concluding the Brexit question and MPs dodge making a decision again.

As a result of the vote, with no agreement being reached regarding approval of the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, provisions of the “surrender” Act also known as, the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, come into play that requires the Prime Minister to request an extension (another one) to the current extension due to expire on 31 October 2019 – more delay.

What would happen if the EU were to refuse a further extension ?

The House of Commons will sit on Saturday (19/10/19)

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Crunch time – The House of Commons voted to sit from 9.30 am on Saturday 19 October 2019, and MPs will debate the Government’s new Brexit deal.

The House of Commons does not usually sit on a Saturday, the previous occasions were :

  • 2 September 1939: Outbreak of World War II
  • 30 July 1949: Summer adjournment debates, last sitting of the summer
  • 3 November 1956: Suez crisis
  • 3 April 1982: Falkland Islands invasion

Why didn’t they want to do this on Friday 18th ?

MPs approved (with amendment) a Government proposal (called a Business of the House order) on Thursday 17 October to allow this Saturday sitting to happen. The amendment was voted on and agreed by 287 votes in favour with 275 votes against.

In statistical terms, MPs turnout: 86.5%, 51 % of votes cast in favour, 49 % of votes cast against.

Perhaps there should be a 2nd vote !

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to as follows

That this House shall sit at 9.30am on Saturday 19 October and at that sitting:

(1) the first business shall be any statements to be made by Ministers;

(2) the provisions of Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings), with the exception of paragraph (4), shall apply as if that day were a Friday;

(3) paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 16 (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents) shall not apply to any motion on that day; and

(4) if an amendment to any motion has been disposed of (including at or after the moment of interruption), any further amendments selected by the Speaker may be moved, and the questions shall be put forthwith.

The business on Saturday will be:

  • Statement by the Prime Minister; other Ministerial Statements (if any)
  • (Motion) Section 1(1)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 and Section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
  • (Motion) Section 1(2)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019

The first motion seeks Parliaments approval to accept the recent deal agreed between representatives of the UK and the EU.

The second motion, presumably if the 1st motion is rejected, seeks Parliaments approval to leave the EU without an agreed deal.

Update 18/1019

Possible Amendments:

  • Amendment (b) (from Angus MacNeil MP) calls for the revocation of Article 50 instead
  • Amendment (c) (from Ian Blackford MP) calls instead for an extension to allow a general election to happen
  • Amendment (a) (from Sir Oliver Letwin MP) withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation has passed.

An article from the House of Commons Library,

Brexit deal: Saturday’s sitting explained