Britain’s exit from the European Union hung on a knife-edge on Monday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson scrambled to persuade doubters to rally behind his last-minute European Union divorce deal in an extraordinary vote in parliament.
In one of the most striking flourishes of the three-year Brexit drama, Johnson confounded his opponents on Thursday by clinching a new deal with the EU, even though the bloc had promised it would never reopen a treaty it agreed last year.
MP’s Debated on Saturday
For the first time in recent history, MPs sat in the House of Commons on a Saturday to debate it.
On Saturday, much to the frustration of the Prime Minister, a key amendment from MP Sir Oliver Letwin was passed. It means that any support MPs give to the Brexit deal is withheld until legislation to implement the deal has been passed by MPs and Lords.
Thus Prime Minister Johnson was – compelled by the so-called Benn Act – to send a letter to the EU to request a three-month delay to Brexit.
After evaluating his legal options, finding himself backed into a corner, Mr Johnson sent a letter requesting a 3-month extension but, significantly, he did not sign the letter. He then sent a follow-up one, which he did sign, saying that he does not think there should be an extension.
With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.
The numbers are too close to call: Johnson must garner 318 votes in the 650-seat parliament to get a deal approved. Yet his Northern Irish allies are opposed to a deal and the three main opposition parties have pledged to vote it down.