British PM sends unsigned letter seeking Brexit delay
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly wrote to Brussels late Saturday asking for a Brexit extension after MPs voted to force him into seeking a delay beyond October 31.
But Johnson, who has pinned his premiership on getting Britain out of the European Union on time, refused to sign the letter he sent to European Council President Donald Tusk.
The Conservative leader also sent a second signed letter insisting he was not seeking an extension to the Brexit deadline, which has already been postponed twice.
In a day of high drama in the House of Commons, MPs declined to give their backing to the revised withdrawal agreement Johnson struck with the EU this week until the legislation needed to ratify it has passed.
Having failed to back a divorce deal, they triggered a law requiring Johnson to write to EU leaders by the end of the day asking to delay Brexit, to avoid the risk that Britain crashes out in less than a fortnight.
Johnson sent a photocopy of the letter that was contained in the law requiring him to ask for the delay, but did not sign it, showed a copy released by his Downing Street office early Sunday.
He wrote and signed another letter which made clear he does not want to delay Brexit beyond the end of this month.
“Regrettably, parliament missed the opportunity to inject momentum into the ratification process,” Johnson wrote in the signed letter, regretting that EU leaders would now have to spend yet more time on Brexit.
“A further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us. We must bring this process to a conclusion.”
Johnson nonetheless said he remained “confident” of completing the ratification process by October 31.