The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has again asked the European Union to postpone the British withdrawal from the EU, after the House of Commons had already refused to agree to his Brexit deal. EU president Donald Tusk is now going to ask EU leaders how to respond.
It is almost certain that the EU will want to grant a delay, because a British goodbye without a transitional arrangement is also harmful to the EU. All 27 other EU heads of government must unanimously agree with a new delay. It is not clear how long a new extension should apply. Johnson reportedly did not specify a date in his request.
The EU consultation will probably take a few days. On Sunday the EU ambassadors in Brussels will be briefed by EU president Tusk. On Monday, the European Parliament's guidance group will hold a scheduled meeting in Strasbourg. Europe is still looking the cat out of the tree. According to a spokeswoman for the European Commission, EU remembers that the agreement itself was not voted on.
In addition, Brussels will probably first have to wait and see whether Johnson will indeed submit to Parliament next Tuesday the legal texts necessary to legally record the British farewell from the EU.
Johnson did not sign the letter to EU himself. It is a photocopy of the text of the law obliging the British government to request a postponement. He has attached two other letters. In one, he writes that, according to him, a new postponement would be a mistake. He signed that letter personally. The other letter from the British EU ambassador makes it clear that Johnson's postponement request is required by law.
The prime minister had previously been forced by the House of Commons to request a postponement if he had not approved his Brexit deal by Saturday night. British critics say that Johnson's agreement is 95 percent the same as earlier proposals rejected by the lower house of former Prime Minister Theresa May