In Boris Johnson’s new move on Brexit, 2 letters to European union. What they say

UK PM Boris Johnson’s contradictory letters – the one seeking extension without his signature, and the other arguing against extension signed by him – has been called ‘silly’ by critics.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent two contradictory letters to the EU.(AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent two contradictory letters to the EU.(AP)
Updated on Oct 20, 2019 06:58 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, London | By

Bruised by Saturday’s defeat in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent two contradictory letters to the European Union: one, to ask to extend the Brexit deadline of October 31 as the law requires, and another to argue against the same extension.

The unseemly missives to Brussels – called ‘silly’ and the work of a ‘spoiled brat’ by critics – were prompted by the law enacted in September that forces the government to seek the extension if a Brexit agreement is not passed in the House by 11 pm on October 19.

The Johnson government suffered a major setback on Saturday when an amendment was passed to ensure that parliament withholds approval of the prime minister’s Brexit deal reached last Thursday until the withdrawal bill implementing Brexit has been passed. it was seen by Johnson and ministers as a way of further delay Brexit.

But on Sunday Johnson and his ministers insisted that the United Kingdom will leave the EU on October 31 by passing the raft of legislation needed to be able to do so by the deadline. They now claim to have the numbers to have it passed in parliament.

However, since there are effectively only eight sitting days in parliament before the October 31 deadline, getting voluminous legislation passed to implement the agreement will be a challenge for the government; every motion will also be subject to amendments.

Johnson’s contradictory letters – the one seeking the extension without his signature, and the other arguing against extension signed by him – may also land in courts next week, since rebels, opposition MPs and campaigners believe they go against the spirit of the law.

Johnson wrote in the signed letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, that extending the Brexit deadline would be “corrosive” in attempts to deliver on the vote of the 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

Michael Gove, effectively the deputy prime minister, accused MPs who backed Saturday’s amendment of “explicitly to try to frustrate this process and to drag it out,” adding that Johnson is determined to meet the October 31 deadline.

However, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told the BBC on Sunday: “The law is very clear. He should have signed one letter in accordance with the law”, while an unnamed former Conservative cabinet minister told the media the letters will put government law officers in a difficult position.

Labour has already extended support to potential amendments seeking to subject Brexit legislation to what is called a ‘confirmatory referendum’: the condition that it can be implemented only if the agreement is approved in another referendum.

A no-confidence motion in the minority Johnson government is also on the cards after the Scottish National Party announced its intention to move it on Sunday. These and other parliamentary devices used by critics will further challenge the government’s ability to pass the required legislation by the October 31 deadline.

Another mid-term election and the referendum are among options that may result from the cut-and-thrust in parliament next week, amid reports from various parts of the UK and Europe that a ‘Brexit fatigue’ has set in among the people and leaders.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Solomon Island's Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele (left) and Chief Protocole Walter Diamana (right) escorting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (centre) upon his arrival at the Henderson International Airport in Honiara. (AFP)

    China’s foreign minister starts Pacific tour in the Solomons

    Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Thursday arrived in the Solomon Islands at the start of an eight-nation tour amid concerns about Beijing's rapidly expanding military and economic ambitions in the in the South Pacific region. Wang, who is also state councillor,will also visit Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, as well as Timor-Leste.

  • A man walks past a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea's launch of three missiles, in Seoul. 

    Hwasong-17 ICBM, hypersonic missiles in North Korea's arsenal: Details here 

    In its firing, North Korea on Wednesday launched three missiles, including its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-17, prompting the United States to call for a vote on Thursday on a UN resolution that would impose tougher sanctions against it. The launch of multiple types of missiles came amid the country's first confirmed Covid-19 outbreak, which UN agencies said might bring a devastating crisis for its 25 million people.

  • Unauthorised weekly vegetable markets have once again resumed in the Pune corporation limits after the easing of Covid curbs. (HT FILE PHOTO)

    War in Ukraine may trigger global recession, says World Bank chief: Report

    Russia's war on Ukraine could trigger a global recession because of the impact on food, energy and fertiliser prices, with developing nations among the worst affected World Bank president David Malpass said Wednesday. He said that while Ukraine and Russia were expected to see significant contractions, Europe, and the United States were seeing slower growth. On China he said the relatively sharp slowdown was due to the pandemic, inflation and a pre-existing real estate crisis.

  • Ukraine exhibits ‘burnt out Russian tanks after invaders left it’ amid war

    Ukraine exhibits ‘burnt out Russian tanks after invaders left it’ amid war

    With the war having entered the fourth month, Ukraine has exhibited Russian tanks and military equipment - burned and destroyed - amid the ongoing fighting between troops of both countries. The tanks are on the display in Mykhailivska Square in the capital city of Kyiv. The pictures of the wreckage were tweeted by the Ministry of foreign affairs, Ukraine on Thursday. Millions of people in war-torn Ukraine have been affected since the war began.

  • The bombs were placed on three minibuses in different districts of the city, Balkh provincial police spokesman Asif Waziri said.

    Four bombs kill at least 16 in Afghanistan

    The death toll from four bombs that ripped through minibuses and a mosque in Afghanistan has risen to at least 16, officials said Thursday, with some of the attacks claimed by the Islamic State group. On Wednesday, at least 10 people were killed when three bombs placed on separate minibuses exploded in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, a health official and police said. Another bomb exploded inside a mosque in the capital Kabul late Wednesday.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, May 26, 2022