Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would not request an extension to Brexit, hours after a law came into force demanding that he delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 2020 unless he can strike a divorce deal. For the second time in a week, lawmakers then rejected Johnson’s request to try to break the deadlock through an early national election. With the future of Brexit mired in uncertainty, parliament was suspended until Oct. 14, sparking tense scenes in the House of Commons where opposition lawmakers held signs reading “silenced” and yelled “shame on you” at Johnson’s ruling Conservatives. Johnson appeared to have lost control of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union with the approval of the law, which obliges him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal at an EU summit next month. EU leaders have repeatedly said they have not received specific proposals ahead of an EU summit on Oct. 17 and 18, at which Johnson says he hopes he can secure a deal. “This government will press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to leave without one,” Boris Johnson told parliament after the result of the vote on an early election. “I will go to that crucial summit on October the 17th and no matter how many devices this parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest … This government will not delay Brexit any further.” Opposition Labour Party leader
Britain hasn’t even divorced the European Union yet, and already a new suitor has come calling: the United States. During a visit this week to the United Kingdom, Vice President Mike Pence brought word from his boss, President Donald Trump: The United States is eager to reach a new trade pact — one that won’t be possible until Britain completes Brexit and moves out of the 28-country EU trading bloc. “Our message is clear: The minute the UK is out, America is in,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a visit with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street on Thursday. Not so fast. Building a new U.S.-U.K. trading relationship atop the wreckage of Brexit won’t be easy. British officials are already vowing to resist an agreement that is lopsided in favor of the more powerful United States, creating potential for disputes over matters such as chlorinated chicken and the divisive Scottish dish haggis. “I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators,” Johnson told Pence. “So, we’re going to work very hard to make sure that that free trade deal is one that works for all sides.” As a member of the EU, Britain outsourced its trade policy to the bloc’s bureaucrats in Brussels. Before it can pursue an independent course and reach a brand-new trade pact with Washington, London will have to negotiate a divorce with the EU— or crash out of the bloc without a deal and risk damaging its own economy. “Until that gets
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop within 30 days, but French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned there would be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal. More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, is betting that the threat of “no-deal” Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and Macron that the EU should do a last-minute deal to suit his demands. Speaking beside Merkel at the German Chancellery, Johnson repeatedly said that the Irish border backstop – which is a protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement struck by his predecessor Theresa May – needed to be removed in full. “It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?” Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said. Johnson confirmed that she had given him 30 days to come up with alternatives and said there was ample scope for a deal. The two leaders had a constructive dinner of tuna, venison and chocolate tart, a British source said. But just an hour after Merkel spoke, Macron said the demands made by Johnson for a renegotiation of the divorce deal, including the removal of the Irish
The European Union on Tuesday rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demand that it reopen the Brexit divorce deal, saying Britain had failed to propose any realistic alternative to an agreed insurance policy for the Irish border. After more than three years of Brexit crisis, the United Kingdom is heading towards a showdown with the EU as Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the divorce terms. In his opening bid to the EU ahead of meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Johnson wrote a four-page letter to European Council President Donald Tusk asking to axe the Irish border “backstop”. Johnson proposed that the backstop – part of the Withdrawal Agreement that then-prime minister Theresa May agreed last year – be replaced with a “commitment” to implement alternative arrangements as part of a deal on the post-Brexit relationship. Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, said the EU would consider “practical solutions” but that the Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the protocol on the Irish border “backstop”, did not need to be changed. “It is a question of the declaration on future ties,” she said during a visit to Iceland. “And I think we will act in a very unified way.” Brussels was more direct. “Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it,” Tusk tweeted. A note seen by Reuters setting out the agreed
The European Union will not renegotiate the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May agreed, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday, as concerns grew that a successor to May could trigger a confrontation with the bloc. Brexit is up in the air after Theresa May announced plans to step down, triggering a leadership contest in the ruling Conservative Party that could bring a new prime minister to power who wants a much more decisive break with the EU. One of the candidates, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said it would be “political suicide” to pursue a no-deal Brexit, a reprimand to frontrunner Boris Johnson who said last week that Britain should leave with or without a deal by the end of October. Hunt, who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum but now accepts Brexit, said he would try for a new agreement that would take Britain out of the EU customs union while “respecting legitimate concerns” around the Irish border. The EU, though, said there would be no renegotiation. “I will have a short meeting with Theresa May, but I was crystal clear: There will be no renegotiation,” Jean-Claude Juncker said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc without any divorce agreement was growing. “Well I think there is a growing risk of a no deal. There’s a possibility that the new British prime minister may try to
Prime Minister Theresa May could reach a Brexit deal with the opposition Labour Party within days, a leading Conservative Party figure said on Saturday, after senior ministers urged compromise following poor local election results.
Ruth Davidson, the Conservatives’ leader in Scotland, told party members that a cross-partisan agreement on Brexit was needed before this month’s European elections, or Britain’s major parties would face an even bigger backlash from voters.
The Conservatives lost 1,332 seats on English local councils that were up for re-election, and Labour - which would typically aim to gain hundreds of seats in a mid-term vote - instead lost 81.
Many voters expressed frustration at May’s failure to have taken Britain out of the European Union, almost three years after the country decided to leave in a referendum.
“If we thought yesterday’s results were a wake-up call, just wait for the European elections on the 23rd of May,” Davidson told a party conference in Aberdeen.