LONDON (AP) — Parliament had been expected to vote yes or no Saturday to a new Brexit divorce deal, but instead Britain faces more wrangling and more delays.
The latest delay was caused by a vote to withhold approval of the Brexit plan until the legislation needed to implement it has been enacted by Parliament.
The amendment approved in a 322-306 vote was designed as an insurance policy to prevent Parliament from voting in favor of the divorce plan but then seeing Britain crash out of the European Union without a deal on the Oct. 31 deadline.
Now Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will be back before Parliament on Monday trying to muster support for the divorce deal reached with European Union leaders.
The delay also means Johnson is required by law to write to EU leaders by late Saturday night to request a three-month extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, something he vowed he would never do.
If he does not write the letter, Johnson can expect to find himself in court. A government lawyer earlier told a Scottish court that Johnson would comply with the law.
It then would be up to EU leaders to decide if an extension should be granted. That decision might be made shortly before the Oct. 31 deadline.
In the meantime, Johnson has vowed to push on with the hope of getting legislation in place and the deal approved ahead of the deadline, and make good on his longstanding vow to take Britain out of the EU.
If an extension is granted and the Oct. 31 deadline is pushed back three months or longer, it is likely that Brexit opponents will have the chance to carefully scrutinize all aspects of the deal and perhaps find more ways to slow the process.