EU says Britain has requested an extension of Brexit deadline after UK lawmakers delay vote

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons, London, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

House of Commons – PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images

Britain has requested an extension of the Oct. 31 deadline to leave the European Union after UK lawmakers delayed a vote Saturday on the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said he has received the extension letter and that he would begin consulting with E.U. leaders on how to respond to Britain’s request. 

Johnson, however, did not personally sign the letter, according to media reports. Earlier on Saturday, Johnson said he would refuse to ask the EU for a delay to the current Oct. 31 deadline after suffering a narrow defeat in Parliament.

The House of Commons sat for a special Saturday session and lawmakers were due to have a “meaningful vote” on Johnson’s new deal with Brussels. However, it was effectively hijacked by a cross-party group of MPs (Members of Parliament) who tabled an amendment that would delay approval and force the prime mister to ask for an extension.

That amendment was backed by 322 votes to 306 and automatically triggered the law known as the “Benn Act.”

Speaking after the setback, Johnson said he would “not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.” However by law, according to the Benn Act, Johnson had until 11:00 p.m. London time Saturday to send a letter to the EU requesting an extension.

Johnson also added: “I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I’ve told everyone in the last 88 days that I’ve served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”

Johnson has also previously stated he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for more time from the EU.

His withdrawal agreement bill will now be introduced in the House of Commons early next week which would potentially mean a vote on Tuesday evening on what is termed the “second reading,” the initial stage of a passage of bill through the House of Commons.

Should it pass, this would be the first time the House has passed any bill relating to Brexit withdrawal deals.

—CNBC’s Elliot Smith contributed to this article.

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