- Boris Johnson writes to the EU requesting that is delayed, after repeatedly insisting that he would not.
- The prime minister had said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than send the letter.
- Johnson declined to sign the letter and sent a separate letter arguing against a delay.
- The EU will now consider Johnson’s request.
Boris Johnson has written to the EU asking to delay Brexit despite saying that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than do so, and insisting that there were “no circumstances” in which he would.
The prime minister wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday evening requesting a three month delay to Brexit, after members of Parliament blocked a vote on his deal with the EU.
Under the terms of legislation passed last month, Johnson was legally obliged to request the delay after failing to secure approval from Parliament by today’s deadline.
However, Johnson declined to sign the letter and sent a separate letter outlining why he is opposed to delaying Brexit.
Tusk acknowledged receipt of the letter and said that he would consult other EU leaders about whether to accept the request.
The letter came after members of Parliament voted on Saturday to block a vote on Johnson’s deal with the EU.
The House of Commons voted by 322 to 306 votes for an amendment which delays the vote on Johnson’s deal until after Johnson has passed the deal into UK law.
Responding to the vote, Johnson said he regretted that “alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.”
He insisted that “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU” and would tell EU leaders he does not want to extend Brexit, even if he has to write a letter to them.
“Further delay would be bad for this country, bad for our European Union, and bad for democracy,” the prime minister said.
EU leaders are not keen on another delay to Brexit, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying earlier this week that he saw no need for a further “prolongation.”
The French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke out against another extension on Friday, saying he saw no reason why one should take place.
However, EU leaders have yet to rule one out, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying on Thursday that European leaders would consider any request for another delay.
The Vice President of the European Parliament also signaled on Thursday that a request would ultimately be approved in order to prevent “a no deal scenario.”
One senior EU source told Business Insider this week that “I do know that there will be [a Brexit extension] offered if vote goes down Saturday.”
However, EU leaders may choice to delay any response until after Johnson has put his Brexit Withdrawal Agreement legislation to a vote, expected to take place on Tuesday