UK lawmakers voted to delay a decision on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, adding yet another chapter to one of the most absurd tales in modern political history.
The vote came during an extraordinary Saturday sitting – the first since the 1982 Falklands War.
MP’s voted 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment put forward by Oliver Letwin. “The ayes have it”…
And so, Boris is now required by law to request a three-month extension to January 31.
That is, of course, unless Johnson simply decides to ignore the legislation, passed last month during a string of defeats for the incorrigible prime minister, for whom taking the UK out of the EU on October 31 is not just a priority, but a quixotic obsession.
“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 have told everyone else 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”, he added, in a characteristically defiant rejoinder.
Saturday’s vote means a decision on Johnson’s deal will be delayed until Tuesday. And yet, according to the law passed last month, Boris is now required to ask Brussels for an extension.
He may attempt to ignore that requirement, but doing so would almost surely mean another date with the UK Supreme Court. Late last month, Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was deemed illegal.
It’s unclear what the EU would do in the event Boris does eventually fold and seek the three month extension as mandated. “This deal or no deal” has proven to be a hollow threat on both sides throughout this three-year farce.
Conceivably, Johnson can still get his deal across the finish line by the end of the month. “The question [Tuesday] will be, as it was on Saturday morning, whether Johnson has the votes to push [the deal] through”, Bloomberg writes, adding that on Saturday, “Conservative MPs, both current and almost all those he expelled last month, [said] they’d vote with him, as well as a small number of Labour MPs”.
Boris will need to hold that loose coalition together. If anything goes wrong, the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal in less than two weeks.
“My aim is to ensure that Boris’s deal succeeds”, the above-mentioned Letwin said Saturday, while explaining his amendment. “[I just] want an insurance policy which prevents the UK from crashing out on 31 October by mistake if something goes wrong during the passage of the implementing legislation”.
Fortunately, Johnson knows how to extricate himself from tight spots. “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets”, Boris said in an interview with The Mail last month, while elaborating on his strategy to negotiate with the EU.
“[Bruce] Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them”, a completely serious Boris went on to say.