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Tusk accepts extension

Brexit likely to be delayed to 31 January as election looms

Making a point: Boris Johnson was in no mood for compromise

Britain was braced for a further Brexit delay until the end of January after EU Council president Donald Tusk defied Boris Johnson and called for the divorce date to be pushed back.

Mr Tusk will recommend that EU countries accept the new date for the UK’s divorce from the European Union to avoid a No Deal exit.

His quick response to Mr Johnson’s letter on Saturday came after MPs first backed Mr Johnson’s deal but then voted against his plan to push it through the House of Commons in just three days. 

Mr Johnson responded to the victory by telling MPs that he would pause his efforts to try to get his deal agreed by Parliament while he waited for the EU to decide whether to grant a Brexit delay. 

Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill was approved in principle by 329 to 299 meaning it has cleared the initial hurdle towards becoming law.

But he was thwarted in his attempts to fast-track it on to the statute book in time to get Britain out of the EU by 31 October as MPs voted 322- 308 against the timetable.

Mr Johnson afterwards told the Commons he would “pause” the legislation until the EU had “stated their intentions”.

He said he was “disappointed” they had voted for delay, and said the UK “now faced further uncertainty”.

But he said his policy remained that Brexit would go ahead at the end of the month, but added: “One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal to which this House has just given its assent.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson was “the author of his own misfortune” but offered to enter discussions over a “sensible” timetable for his deal to go through Parliament.

Earlier, Mr Johnson threatened to pull the Brexit Bill and demand Mr Corbyn agree to a general election if MPs voted down his deal.

In a telling message to waverers, Mr Johnson accused the Labour leader of showing “contempt for the British people” and said rejection would see him call for an election before Christmas to resolve the issue.

Showing signs of frustration verging on anger, Mr Johnson told the Commons: “I will in no way allow months more of this… the Bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act prevents the Prime Minister from choosing when to call an election. 

Instead, he must have the support of two-thirds of MPs or lose a formal vote of no-confidence.

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