Boris Johnson: EU signals backing for Brexit delay

Boris Johnson’s obsessive mission to take the U.K. out of the European Union on 31 October was derailed as members of Parliament dramatically blocked his plan to rush the Brexit deal into law.

European Council President Donald Tusk responded by saying he’d recommend the EU accept the U.K.’s request for an extension.

While he didn’t set a date, his suggestion that this could be agreed by letter, and without a summit, pointed to accepting the British Parliament’s request of a new exit date of Jan. 31.

The pound fell after the Parliament blocked the vote to rush the deal.

In another day of Brexit drama in the 800-year-old Westminster parliament, lawmakers handed Johnson the first major parliamentary victory of his premiership by signalling their support for his deal in an early legislative hurdle.

But that was overshadowed just minutes later when parliament defeated him on his timetable to rush the legislation through the House of Commons in just three days.

Lawmakers voted 329 to 299 in favour of the second reading of the legislation for the deal – still no guarantee of success since the bill could be amended by lawmakers who want changes.

They then voted 322 to 308 against Johnson’s extremely tight timetable, which the government has repeatedly said is necessary to reach Johnson’s target of leaving on Oct. 31.

“I must express my disappointment that the House has yet again voted for delay,” Johnson told parliament.

The next step, he said, would be waiting for the EU to respond to a request to delay the Oct. 31 Brexit date, which Johnson reluctantly sent to Brussels on Saturday after being forced to do so by lawmakers.

“The EU must now make up their minds over how to answer parliament’s request for a delay,” he said.

“The government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome.”

Johnson was forced by opponents into the humiliation of asking the EU for the delay after vowing he would never seek one, but had still hoped to make the request unnecessary by passing the Brexit law fast enough to leave on time.