Gavin Grey: UK Parliament forces another Brexit extension

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A defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that he would resist attempts to delay Britain's departure from the European Union beyond the end of the month, though he appeared to have no choice but to seek an extension after Parliament postponed a decision on whether to back his Brexit deal.
Johnson said he still aimed to meet the Oct. 31 deadline and would tell EU leaders that delaying Brexit is a bad idea. The bloc said it would wait to hear from the British government about what it wanted to do next. A law passed by Parliament last month gives the government until 11 p.m. (6 p.m. EDT) Saturday to send a letter asking the EU for a three-month postponement.
"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so," Johnson said. "I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I've told everyone in the last 88 days that I've served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy."
French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to agree. Macron's office said he spoke to Johnson by phone and insisted on the need for "quick clarification of the British position on the accord." The president's office said Macron indicated to the British prime minister that "a delay would be in no one's interest."
At a rare weekend sitting of Parliament, lawmakers voted 322-306 to withhold their approval of the Brexit deal until legislation to implement it has been passed.
The vote sought to ensure that the U.K. cannot crash out of the EU without a divorce deal on the scheduled departure date. Johnson, who struck the agreement with the EU earlier this week, said he was not "daunted or dismayed" by the result and would continue to do all he can to get Brexit done in less than two weeks.
Parliament's first weekend sitting since the Falklands War of 1982 had been dubbed "Super Saturday." It looked set to bring Britain's Brexit saga to a head , more than three years after the country's divisive decision to leave the EU.
But the government's hopes were derailed when House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said he would allow a vote on an amendment to put the vote on the deal off until another day.
The amendment makes support for the deal conditional on passage of the legislation to implement it, something that could take several days or weeks. It also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinize — and possibly change— the Brexit departure terms while the legislation is in Parliament.
The government still hopes it can pass the needed legislation by the end of the month so the U.K. can leave on time.
The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the government would hold a debate Monday on its Brexit-implementing legislation — effectively a second attempt to secure approval for the deal.
It's unclear whether that would be allowed under House of Commons rules against holding repeated votes on the same question. Bercow said he would make a ruling Monday.
Despite Johnson's vow not to "negotiate" a Brexit delay, the government has said it will comply with a law passed by Parliament last month ordering it to request an extension if a deal has not been approved by Saturday.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted late Saturday: "Waiting for the letter. I just talked to PM @BorisJohnson about the situation after the vote in the House of Commons."
British opposition lawmakers warned that Johnson must ask for the Brexit extension or face legal consequences.
"Any failure of a prime minister who thinks he is above the law — well, prime minister, you'll find yourself in court," said Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party.
The vote was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators who marched to Parliament Square, demanding a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU or remain. Protesters, many wearing blue berets emblazoned with yellow stars symbolizing the EU flag, poured out of subways and buse...

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