British MPs vote for Brexit delay in historic Parliament session
London: In a historic weekend Parliament session, the first in 37 years, British MPs on Saturday voted to back a motion that delays the vote on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal struck with the European Union (EU).
In a setback to Johnson, the 322 versus 306 vote on an important amendment means that the UK prime minister is bound by the Benn Act passed earlier by the parliamentarians to write to the EU by midnight on Saturday seeking a delay to the October 31 deadline as no new deal has been passed in the Commons by the October 19 cut-off date. While Johnson and some of his team have previously said that he will abide by the rule of law, it remains unclear what next steps are expected from Downing Street.
Johnson declared in Parliament soon after Saturday's vote that he will not be seeking an extension to the end-October Brexit deadline, adding that "I will do all I can to get Brexit done by October 31 .
At the special Parliament session, dubbed 'Super Saturday' because of its significance, UK MPs backed an amendment tabled by Conservative Party MP Oliver Letwin demanding that no new Brexit deal be voted on until the requisite legislation to see it through in time for the October 31 deadline was in place.
The government had already indicated that it would pull its own motion on Johnson's great new deal and move it to next week if MPs were to back the delay amendment, introduced as an insurance policy against a default no-deal crash-out by the month-end deadline.
Johnson stressed that he was neither daunted nor dismayed by Saturday's vote and that the government would place the required legislation around his new EU withdrawal agreement next week, expected to be tabled on Monday and then voted on Tuesday.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that the 'Super Saturday' vote was a clear message from MPs that they have declined to back the prime minister's deal .
Earlier, MPs began debating the new Brexit deal motion, which was to be followed by what had been characterised as a knife-edge vote in the House of Commons on the so-called divorce arrangements between the UK and the 27 remaining members of the economic bloc.
Johnson opened the session with a plea for all sides of the House to come together behind the great deal .
Let us come together as democrats to end this debilitating feud. Let us come together as democrats behind this deal, the one proposition that fulfils the verdict of the majority but which also allows us to bring together the two halves of our hearts, to bring together the two halves of our nation, said Johnson in his statement to the Commons. PTI