The British House of Commons passed an important legislative amendment on Saturday with a majority of sixteen votes, which means that Prime Minister Boris Johnson must request a Brexit postponement, even if his deal is adopted. In response, the government postponed the vote on its agreement.
“Unfortunately, the opportunity to hold a meaningful vote has expired, because the meaningful vote has been stripped of all meaning,” said Johnson after the vote.
He reiterates that a Brexit with its retirement agreement on October 31 is still the “best option”.
The so-called Letwin amendment, for which there is a majority in the House of Commons, was submitted as a kind of insurance policy and requires that all legislation necessary to implement the exit agreement must be adopted before the deal can be approved. Before leaving the EU, the UK must not only approve a Brexit deal, but the government must also ratify the deal.
The parliamentarians who voted in favor of the change were afraid that the hardliners from the Conservative party would still be hampered by ratification if the deal was accepted at the Lower House. If they did not sign in the end, the UK could still crash out of the EU without agreement on 31 October. The Letwin amendment therefore ensures that everything must first be regulated by law.
Johnson is expected to present the necessary legislation to parliament on Monday. He thereby meets the Letwin amendment. The prime minister will then probably resubmit his deal to the lower house on Tuesday. The chance that he will then find a majority will increase.
Now that the vote on Johnson’s deal is canceled, the prime minister actually has to go to Brussels to request a postponement. Not because of the Letwin amendment, because that is linked to his deal, but because the Benn law is still in force. This law, passed at the Lower House in early September, obliges Johnson to request a Brexit postponement if there is no deal on the table before 11 pm British time before 19 October.
Johnson said on Saturday after the Letwin amendment was accepted that he would not negotiate a new delay with the EU. “We will tell our friends in the EU that further delay is bad for this country, the EU and democracy.” He says he hopes that they are not “attracted” to granting a delay.