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Boris Johnson sends letter to Donald Tusk accepting Brexit extension to 31 January 2020

Donald Tusk confirmed the news this morning.

LAST UPDATE | 28 Oct 2019

belgium-brussels-the-european-council-president-donald-tusk-and-boris-johnson-uk-prime-minister Donald Tusk and Boris Johnson in Brussels last week. Pignatelli / Euc/Ropi/PA Images Pignatelli / Euc/Ropi/PA Images / Euc/Ropi/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON HAS written to European Council president Donald Tusk accepting a Brexit extension until 31 January 2020.

Tusk had recommended EU leaders approve an extension until 31 January 2020 and earlier today confirmed all EU member states have agreed to proceed on that basis. 

In a letter published this evening, Johnson said: “I would have much preferred it if the UK Parliament could have proceeded rapidly to ratify the deal we reached between us.

“Unfortunately, I very much fear that this Parliament will never do so as long as it has the option of further delay. 

“That is why I am seeking a General Election in December to ensure the election of a fresh parliament which is capable of resolving the issue in accordance with out constitutional norms.”

letter to tusk Downing Street Downing Street

Some leaders, most notably Emmanuel Macron of France, had been pushing a shorter extension to allow UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pass the recently revised Brexit deal through the House of Commons.

The EU leaders have now agreed to a so-called ‘flextension’ to the end of January 2020. The UK can leave the bloc earlier if the House of Commons and the European Parliament ratify the Withdrawal Agreement before then.

Last week British MPs voted to allow Johnson’s Brexit legislation to proceed. However, the government lost a second vote on his accelerated timetable to rush the legislation through – which forced another request for an extension to be considered.

Johnson earlier this month sought an extension, via an unsigned letter, against his own wishes. He previously said he would prefer to be “dead in a ditch” than fail to leave the EU by 31 October. 

The latest extension is the third granted to the UK after an initial Brexit date of 29 March was missed earlier this year.

General election 

British MPs are today due to vote on holding a December general election. This morning’s announcement will mount pressure on opposition parties to decide whether to back a poll on 12 December.

Labour has said it will only back the move if Johnson makes “absolutely clear” that a no-deal Brexit is off the table.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election bid, to be made under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), would require a two-thirds Commons majority – 434 MPs.

As an alternative, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have put forward a tightly-drafted Bill that would grant an election on 9 December.

The draft law, currently scheduled for tomorrow’s sitting, would require a simple majority of 320 MPs to support it in order to dissolve Parliament – 114 fewer than under the FTPA “super majority” rules.

With the SNP and Lib Dems supporting the initiative, the Bill is likely to pass even without Labour backing.

With reporting by Conor McCrave, Rónán Duffy and PA

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