MPs have effectively cancelled today’s ‘meaningful vote’ on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, challenging the Prime Minister to obey a law requiring him to delay the UK’s 31 October exit date.
The House of Commons backed an amendment put forward by former Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin, which withholds approval for the deal until the Withdrawal Act Implementation Bill is passed.
Addressing MPs immediately after the 322-306 defeat, Mr Johnson said the “meaningful vote had been voided of meaning”.
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Under the terms of the Benn Act, the delay means Mr Johnson is required to send a letter to the EU by 11pm on Saturday requesting a Brexit delay of at least three months.
But the Prime Minister said he was not "daunted or dismayed" by the result and remained committed to taking Britain out by October 31.
"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, neither does the law compel me to do so," he said.
Briefing journalists, his official spokespeople refused to add to his comments or confirm whether a letter would be sent, but they insisted the government was “complying with the law”.
The Withdrawal Act Implementation Bill, which will bring the provisions of the Brexit deal into force, is expected to be introduced in the Commons on Monday.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees Mogg said the government also planned to give MPs another chance to have a meaningful vote on the deal on Monday.
Following the Prime Minister's comments, SNP MP Joanna Cherry - who led a legal action at the Court of Session seeking to have the Benn Act enforced by Scottish judges - asked Commons speaker John Bercow if he would send an extension letter to Brussels, if requested.
"We're back in court on Monday morning and it will be possible then to secure the court's assistance if the Prime Minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court,” Ms Cherry said.
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"Should Scotland's Supreme Court mandate you to sign the letter required by the Act on behalf of this Parliament, will you do so?"
Mr Bercow replied: "If I were instructed by this House, I would do as instructed and if I were directed or instructed by a court, I would do as directed. That is my instinctive reaction.
"I would of course seek further and better particulars, I would take advice, but I repeat, I haven't been asked, I'm not expecting to be asked, I'm not looking to be asked, but I would do as I was required to do and I would have no hesitation in so doing."