The first ministers of Scotland and Wales have written to Donald Tusk to contradict Boris Johnson and ask for enough time to properly scrutinise the Withdrawal Agreement – and hold a second referendum on it.
The letter, signed by Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, follows two communications from Johnson who disavowed his own request for an extension to the Brexit deadline with a second letter saying he believes the delay would be a mistake.
But Sturgeon and Drakeford point out that MPs have not been given enough time to review the agreement Johnson struck with the EU – blaming the prime minister’s own actions.
Their plea comes in the face of conflicting messages coming from European power players in response to the question of an Article 50 extension.
While European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and French president have become increasingly impatient on the question, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Finnish prime minister Antti Rinne have suggested the EU should offer more time.
This is significant from Scotland and Wales. The UK ratification procedures are not just Westminster, and cannot possibly be done this week. @eucopresident I hope will push meaningful extension to allow us to find domestic solutions that will last. https://t.co/fhqjntfOMl— Alyn Smith MEP ?' (@AlynSmith) October 21, 2019
WATCH: Jean-Claude Juncker says he will not give his backing to an extension of Article 50MORE: Angela Merkel says EU must grant Article 50 extension: reportsJuncker is not one of the 27 heads of state who will have a vote in the decision, which must be unanimous.
The Welsh and Scottish leaders asked the EU 27 not only for time to look over the deal, but also to put it to the people.
“Our joint view is that the ultimate result of the Westminster parliamentary process should be a referendum on EU membership,” they wrote. “But in any event it is also essential to ensure that there is sufficient time for proper scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.”
The leaders blamed Johnson for giving parliamentarians only 24 hours to look at the deal. “It is simply impossible for us to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities in this timescale, which is dictated by the way in which the prime minister delayed tabling formal proposals,” they wrote.
The letter asked the European Council to consider making the extension long enough for a second referendum, which both the Welsh and Scottish devolved governments support.
SNP MEP Alyn Smith called the letter “significant” in a tweet.
“[Tusk] I hope will push meaningful extension to allow us to find domestic solutions that will last,” he wrote.
The letter was copied to UK party leaders, David Sassoli, the leader of the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker, chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.