Britain Unlikely to Leave European Union on 31 October 2019

Britain Unlikely to Leave European Union on 31 October 2019

Boris Johnson’s withdrawal deal for leaving the European Union was approved in parliament last night by 329 to 299 votes. Unfortunately, the government’s proposed timetable for implementing the withdrawal agreement was rejected by 322 to 308. That puts the Prime Minister in a difficult position. As the leader of a minority government, he is unable to consistently secure the approval of parliament. A way out of the quandary would be to call an election, but under Britain’s system of 5 year fixed term parliaments that presents another obstacle, as the last election was in 2017. As he has already been compelled to request an extension from the EU until 31 January 2020 in the recent letters sent on 19 October, the difficulty of meeting the previously settled deadline has increased.  However, the Prime Minister has insisted in a statement made in the House of Commons shortly after the results of the votes were made known that he will still attempt to leave on 31 October, and will signal to the EU that is his resolute intention.

The EU said it would accept the withdrawal agreement earlier this week.  Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, has said last night on Twitter:


Following PM @BorisJohnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension. For this I will propose a written procedure.


Nevertheless, the Prime Prime Minister was in buoyant mood after securing at least one of objectives.  It is clear that whether or not there is a delay Britain will still be leaving the European Union.


Note: Donald Tusk’s tweet can be found here: