Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent the EU three letters to make clear he really does not want a Brexit delay, “after his Super Saturday showdown in the Commons where he requested a delay to Brexit – before adding he wanted no such thing”.
The UK Metro reports: “Among his late night messages sent before the midnight deadline was an unsigned letter delivered to EU Council president Donald Tusk asking for an Article 50 extension.
“The letter was demanded by the Benn Act, which asks the EU to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline, using the exact wording specified in the legislation. But the copy was not signed by Mr Johnson and was reportedly a photocopy.
“A second covering letter, written by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s Permanent Representative in Brussels, is said to have made clear that the first letter was from Parliament, not the Government.
“The third was a letter from Mr Johnson himself, which was also sent to the leaders of the other 27 EU nations, in which he disavowed the first letter and repeated that he does not want any delay to Brexit. In it, the PM said any further hold-up would be ‘deeply corrosive’ and would ‘damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners’.
“He said UK would continue to ratify the deal and urged Brussels to do the same. Confirming he received the letters last night, European Council president Donald Tusk said:
“The letters are understood to have been sent by email and in hard copy by Sir Tim and have been said to represent the PM’s ‘defiant riposte to the rebel alliance’ of cross-party MPs who voted to support a delay.
“Mr Johnson could face a legal challenge from pro-Remain groups to his three-letter ploy on the grounds that he did not sign the Benn extension letter. Downing Street lawyers have pointed out that the Benn Act only orders the PM to ‘send’ not ‘sign’ a letter.”
The report goes on to quote a senior government source who said: “The prime minister’s fate now lies in the hands of Speaker John Bercow – who may choose not allow a meaningful vote on My Johnson’s Brexit deal signed off by the EU on Thursday – as well as with rebel MPs and other EU leaders, especially French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Number 10 is said to be hopeful other EU leaders will refuse to allow an extension. One source said that they put the chances at ‘about 50 per cent’, adding: ‘Macron has been particularly trenchant in private about not wanting to extend, and we hope he could take Merkel with him’.”
Meanwhile, the French President’s office “signalled that they would not back an extension” on Saturday night.
“Given that a deal had been negotiated, ‘it’s now up to the British Parliament to say if it approves or rejects it’,” the report said.
“It is understood the EU will delay any decision about an extension until a meaningful vote had been held in Westminster. The decision could come as late as October 28 during a special EU summit – just 72 hours before the planned Brexit date.
“According to Downing Street sources, the PM spent last night making calls to EU leaders to reiterate what was said in his third letter – that the request to delay Brexit was not his.”
The humiliating result came as the House of Commons sat on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years – while thousands of protesters stood outside demanding a second referendum.
The Prime Minister wanted “to force MPs into a ‘meaningful vote’ on his Brexit deal that would have ‘locked in’ a legal countdown to October 31”.