LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will once again try to put his Brexit agreement to a vote in parliament on Monday after his opponents forced him to send a letter requesting a reprieve from the European Union.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is speaking out on a vote on his renegotiated Brexit agreement on the so-called "Supersay Day" in the British House of Commons in London on 19 October 2019. © UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / Handout via REUTERS
Only another 10 days before the UK leaves the EU on 31 October, the divorce is again in disarray, as the British political class has to argue over whether to leave with a deal, quit a deal or hold another referendum.
Johnson was attacked on Saturday by opponents in parliament calling for a change in the order of ratification of the agreement and suspending the Prime Minister of a law calling for a delay until 31 January.
In One Turn This illustrates the extent to which Brexit has put pressure on the norms of British statesmanship. Johnson sent the note to the EU without signature and added another signed letter arguing against what he considered deeply corrosive.
"Further extension would harm the interests of the United Kingdom and our EU partners, as well as relations between us," Johnson said in his own letter signed "Boris Johnson".
The British government insisted that the country leave the EU on Sunday, October 31, and plans to put the agreement to a vote later this Monday in parliament, although it is unclear whether the lower house spokesman will allow such a vote.
The government has proposed a debate on the agreement, as shown in the House Order that the speaker will make a statement on the case shortly after the opening of Parliament at 13:30 GMT.
Speaker John Bercow is believed to not allow this as it would repeat the debate on Saturday, but he has not yet made his formal decision.
The pound, which has risen more than 6% since October 10, slid off its five-month high on Monday. Asian trading traded at just $ 1.2850 before settling at $ 1.2920 in London = D3, a drop of 0.5% on that day.
Goldman Sachs increased the likelihood that the United Kingdom would break with a ratified deal from 65% to 70%, lowered the prospect of a no-deal Brexit from 10% to 5% and left it at no Brexit at 25%.
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The EU, which has grappled with the difficult Brexit crisis since the British voted to quit between 52% and 48% in a referendum in 2016, was clearly confused by the contradictory signals from London.
After the Brexit was in the air, the block ambassadors decided on Sunday to play for time instead of hurrying over Johnson's request.
From the EU's point of view, extension options range from just one additional month to the end of November to half a year or more.
"We are looking for more clarity towards the end of the week and we hope to see what happens in London at the time," a senior EU diplomat said.
It was unlikely that the 27 remaining EU Member States would reject Britain's request to postpone its resignation, as Brexit without agreement would affect all parties.
In London, Johnson's ministers said they were confident they had the numbers to bring a deal through Parliament, in which opponents were planning to derail the deal he had assured the EU he could ratify.
The opposition Labor Party was planning changes to the agreement that would make it unacceptable for parts of Johnson's own party, including a proposal for another referendum.
Johnson's former allies, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), have announced that they could support a proposal for a customs union with the EU – a move that would ruin Johnson's business, The Daily Telegraph reported.
"Stupid or mendacious MPs have repeatedly postponed the goalposts and lifted the deadline," said Steve Baker, advocate of Brexit.
If Johnson's business is ruined just days before the scheduled departure of the United Kingdom, Johnson will have the choice: go without a deal or accept a delay.
Letter from Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Toby Chopra and Angus MacSwan