The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Britain’s exit from the bloc but added another note in which he explained that he did not want a “deeply corrosive” Brexit extension.
Johnson had previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for any extension to the Oct. 31 deadline.
But he was compelled, by a law passed last month by opponents, to send a letter to the bloc asking to push back the deadline to Jan. 31 after lawmakers thwarted his attempt to pass his EU divorce deal on Saturday.
In an extraordinary step that indicates the extent of the Brexit fever gripping the United Kingdom, Johnson sent a total of three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.
First, a brief cover note from Britain’s EU envoy explaining that the government was simply complying with that law; second, an unsigned photocopy of the text that the law, known as the Benn Act, forced him to write; and a third letter in which Johnson said that he did not want an extension, according to Reuters report,
“I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister and made clear to parliament again today, my view, and the Government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said in the third letter which was signed “Boris Johnson”.
Johnson, for whom delivering Brexit is key to his plan to hold an early election, said he was confident that the process of getting the Brexit legislation through Britain’s parliament would be completed before Oct. 31, according to the letter.
Tusk said he had received the request from Johnson.
“I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” he said on Twitter.
French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson that Paris needed swift clarification on the situation after Saturday’s vote, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.
“He signaled a delay would be in no one’s interest,” the official said.
However, it was unlikely that the EU’s 27 members states would refuse Britain’s delay request.