Mon, Oct 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

EU plays for time as Johnson spars with parliament

SUNDAY CONFAB:Ambassadors from 27 EU states met and agreed to forward British Prime Minister Johnson’s letter requesting another delay to the European Parliament

Reuters, BRUSSELS

The Brexit accountability campaign group Led By Donkeys unfurls a large banner in Parliament Square in London during a protest on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters / Led by Donkeys

The EU is going to play for time rather than rush to decide on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reluctant request to delay Brexit again, diplomats with the bloc said after a 15-minute meeting yesterday.

The fractious British parliament on Saturday refused to vote on Johnson’s new Brexit withdrawal deal, a move that forced him to seek a third postponement of Britain’s departure from the bloc, which has been envisaged for Thursday next week.

At a rare Sunday meeting of ambassadors of the 27 states that will make up the EU after Brexit, the diplomats decided to forward Johnson’s deal to the European Parliament for its required approval.

The EU chamber sits in Strasbourg this week.

“We’re looking for more clarity towards the end of the week, hoping that by that time we will also see how things develop in London,” one senior EU diplomat said.

Another one added that the meeting was very brief: “No questions, no discussion. We are waiting.”

European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday said he had received the extension request and he would now be consulting with EU capitals on how to react.

After the British parliament refused to endorse Johnson’s deal at the first time of asking on Saturday, Johnson sent a letter to the bloc requesting a delay, as required by a law passed earlier by parliament.

However, Johnson added another note in which he explained that he personally did not want the “deeply corrosive” postponement.

A third senior EU diplomat, noting that follow-up letter, said: “Either way you slice it, there’s a request for an extension there.”

“The political ball is in Westminster. In terms of the letters that’s with Donald Tusk,” the diplomat added. “Let’s see how things pan out over the next few days.”

“We need a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer from Britain on #Brexit agreement. Political uncertainty has negative consequences for millions of families and businesses,” French Minister for European Affairs Amelie de said yesterday in a tweet.

Johnson’s government is to bring forward this week the domestic legislation needed to implement the divorce deal, with a first vote as soon as tomorrow.

However, it is also seeking a new yes-or-no vote today on approving the deal, although this may fall foul of parliamentary procedure.

The Labour Party has lambasted Johnson’s deal as a “sell-out” and on Saturday voted for the delay.

However, senior figures yesterday hinted that they could let it go through, subject to amendments including a second referendum pitting a divorce deal against remaining in the bloc.

Additional reporting by AFP

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