Boris Johnson says he will not negotiate Article 50 extension despite Letwin amendment

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Boris Johnson has said that he will not negotiate an extension to Article 50 after losing a vote designed to compel him to do so.

The amendment, which passed with a majority of 16, aimed to force Boris Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50 regardless of whether his deal with the EU wins MPs' approval in the House of Commons. The amendment was passed by 322 votes to 306.

But Johnson said: "The meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.

"I wish the house to know that I am not daunted or dismayed by this particular result ... and I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so."

Jeremy Corbyn said: "The prime minister must now comply with the law."


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It is unclear how the prime minister can legally refuse to make the request, but he has previously committed to following the law.

The Letwin amendment requires the deal to have passed fully through all legislative stages - and not just through the Commons and the Lords - before the Benn Act is considered to be satisfied.

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The Benn Act set a deadline of October 19 for Johnson to have his deal approved by MPs, if he wanted to avoid an extension of Article 50.

MORE: Letwin amendment proposed to close loophole that could lead to no-dealThe DUP, considered to be crucial in getting Johnson's deal approved, said they would support the amendment prior to the vote.

The passing of the amendment robs Boris Johnson of the decisive victory he hoped for on his deal, as it entails further parliamentary scrutiny of the legislative process beyond the main Commons vote.

Since the amendment was proposed, the government suggested that if it were successful the vote on Johnson's deal could be postponed until Tuesday.

Naomi Smith, the CEO of Best for Britain, said: "The success of this amendment shows that MPs do not trust Boris Johnson not to run the country off a no-deal cliff-edge a year down the line.

"The prime minister tried to bounce MPs into quickly nodding through a deal which makes Theresa May's botched effort look good.

"It's another humiliation for the prime minister who can't win a parliamentary vote."

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