Boris Johnson faces frenzied week as Brexit deadline nears
London — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a frenzied week of activity in Parliament, and possibly in the courts, as he tries to woo rebellious lawmakers in time to meet the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
Johnson has vowed to avoid needing yet another extension to that deadline, even though he has formally asked — in distinctly unenthused tones — for a delay that is being considered by European Union leaders.
EU officials haven’t yet responded to his request for more time. They are torn between a wish to finally put the Brexit issue to bed and a devout desire to avoid the economic ramification of Britain leaving without a divorce deal in place.
Johnson on Sunday used surrogates to make the case that he likely has the votes needed to gain passage for his new Brexit plan and won’t need any delay.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC he believes Johnson has enough support to get his deal through Parliament, but added the government would keep talking with its Northern Ireland ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, to persuade it to back the deal.
So far, the party, which holds 10 seats in Parliament, has refused to support Johnson’s agreement because it treats Northern Ireland differently than other parts of the U.K.
As required by law, Johnson sent a letter to the EU late Saturday night seeking a delay to Britain’s impending Oct. 31 departure. He waited until the last possible moment, withheld his signature and immediately followed it with a signed letter indicating that he doesn’t actually favor another Brexit extension.
“My view, and the government’s position, (is) that a further extension would damage the interests of the U.K. and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk.
Johnson has long declared that he plans to take the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal, and his minister in charge of Brexit again emphasized that stance.
“We are going to leave by Oct. 31st,” Michael Gove said Sunday. “We have the means and the ability to do so.”