British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday requesting a delay in Brexit and a separate note saying he did not want an extension, a British government source said.
Johnson was forced to request a Brexit extension beyond October 31 through the end of January, after he missed a deadline on Saturday to secure support for a deal in parliament or support from lawmakers to get out without a deal. The source said a third document was also sent to Brussels on Saturday, signed by Britain's top envoy to the European Parliament.
Johnson expected Saturday to see recalcitrant lawmakers backing the divorce settlement he agreed with EU leaders this week and finally ending three years of political stalemate since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.
Instead, parliamentarians voted 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment that turned its head to Johnson's planned end, leaving the prime minister exposed to a humiliating obligation to call on the EU to be late by the end of January 2020 and increasing the opportunity for opponents to thwart Brexit.
Johnson promised to get the country out of the bloc on Oct. 31, whatever happens, and after the amendment was passed, he adopted a defiant tone.
"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and the law does not oblige me to do so," he told parliament. "I will tell our EU friends and colleagues exactly what I have told everyone in the last 88 days that I have served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy."
However, he seemed to acknowledge in a letter later sent to lawmakers that he requested an extension of Brexit – as required by an earlier law passed by his opponents. "It's quite possible that our friends from the European Union will reject Parliament's request. However late (or not making a decision quickly)," Johnson wrote.
European Council President Donald Tusk said he had spoken with Johnson and an EU official said Johnson confirmed in that phone call that the letter requesting an extension to the EU would actually be sent. The deadline for sending the letter was 2300 GMT on Saturday.
"Tusk on this basis will begin to consult with EU leaders on how to react. This could take a few days," he said.
. (tagsToTranslate) Brexit (t) London (t) vote (t) European Union