Defiant Boris Johnson says he will not seek Brexit extension after MPs scupper vote on deal

Posted On: 
19th October 2019

Boris Johnson has insisted that he will not seek a fresh Brexit extension from the European Union despite MPs scuppering plans for a full vote on his deal.

Boris Johnson will now be forced to seek an extension from EU leaders
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons he would press ahead with his plans to leave the EU on 31 October after MPs threw their weight behind a bid to beef up a law aimed at averting a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson had hoped to have a decisive Saturday vote on the new-look Brexit deal agreed with Brussels.

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But the plans were effectively gutted after an amendment strengthening the Benn Act - which orders him to seek a extension by 11pm on Saturday if the Commons has not backed an agreement - was backed 322 to 306 by MPs.

Responding to the vote, Mr Johnson said: "Alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.

"But I wish the House to know that I am not daunted or dismayed by this particular result."

He added: "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 31st.

"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 have told everyone in the last 88 days that I have served as PM that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy."

Mr Johnson is now planning to bring in the legislation needed to make his deal happen next week, with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting a fresh vote could take place as soon as Monday.

The Prime Minister told MPs: "I hope they will change their minds and support this deal in overwhelming numbers. "Since I became Prime Minister I have said we must get on and get Brexit done on October 31 so this country can move on.

"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 to the House."

The so-called Letwin amendment - described by its supporters as an "insurance policy" means Parliament has withheld its legal backing for any deal, instead ordering an extension until all the laws needed to make a Brexit deal have passed.

It was designed to close what some MPs saw as a loophole that could have still allowed the Government to leave the EU without a deal even if MPs backed an agreement.

Mr Letwin, who had the Conservative whip removed in September, said the move would give MPs supporting the deal a safety net against a no-deal Brexit if something "went wrong" during future Commons votes on Mr Johnson's EU deal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the result.

"It is an emphatic decision for this House which has declined to back the Prime Minister's deal today and clearly voted to stop a no deal crash out from the European Union," he said.

"The Prime Minister must now comply with the law. He can no longer use the threat of a no deal crash out to blackmail members to support his sell out deal."