British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday suspended the adoption of Brexit pending European Union reaction after British MPs rejected his proposal to speed up an agenda to make the exit effective by the 31st. Johnson said he will pause the proceedings until the bloc decides whether or not to grant a further postponement of the deadline.
Johnson's statement comes after the House of Commons rejected the swift passage of a bill that transforms into British law the agreement reached by the conservative leader with the EU, a move seen as defeat for the prime minister that would lead him to ask for a new extension of the term for divorce.
"I regret that Parliament voted again for postponing the Brexit process," Johnson said after the vote. "I maintain my policy of following our exit from the EU on October 31," he added.
The prime minister had won his first major parliamentary victory on the way to Brexit after Parliament approved the measure to continue examining his bill. His victory, however, was eclipsed by the refusal of his accelerated schedule to complete the split.
Johnson had warned British MPs that if they rejected his agenda he would withdraw his bill and try to get early elections.
In recent days, Johnson has tried unsuccessfully twice to get deputies' approval for the agreement reached with Brussels last week, contrary to all expectations.
Completely opposed to postponing for the third time the departure of the European Union, today he returned to the charge, submitting to the Parliament the bill that should translate this text to the British legislation. The goal was to get the text adopted in just three days.
"If we pass this agreement and the legislation that makes it possible, we can turn the page and allow this Parliament and this country to begin to heal" from the worsening divisions since, in 2016, 52% of Britons opted for Brexit in one year. referendum, Johnson said.
Aware of the prevailing hostility, he issued an ultimatum: "If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to occur …, the bill will have to be withdrawn, and we will have to move to general elections."
Expectation of further extension
In power for less than three months, Johnson has been trying to call early legislatures since losing the majority in September following the rebellion of 21 conservative deputies.
To anticipate the elections scheduled for 2022, however, he needs the support of two thirds of the deputies. The opposition refuses to join until it is sure it has avoided a chaotic Brexit without agreement at the end of the month.
On Saturday, Johnson was forced by lawmakers to ask the EU for a further three-month extension, and it is hard to imagine that in the face of the risk of a painful brutal exit, his 27 European partners would reject the demand.
"A Brexit without agreement will never be our decision," European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted on Tuesday, saying he was "consulting with EU leaders on how to respond to the British request" any longer.
The British prime minister said he was confident that, having managed to renegotiate the unpopular previous agreement with a more than reticent EU, he would muster majority support for his new text. To do so, it would be counting on the most Eurosceptic conservatives, many independents, and some pro-Brexit labor opponents.