Late tonight – just before the midnight deadline stipulated by ‘wrecker’ MPs – a total of three letters were due to be sent from the Government to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.
The first was the letter demanded by the Benn Act, which asks the EU to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline – but not signed by Boris Johnson – using the exact wording specified in the legislation.
The second was a covering letter, written by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s Permanent Representative in Brussels, which made clear that the first letter was from Parliament, not the Government.
And the third was a letter from Mr Johnson, which was also sent to the leaders of the other 27 EU nations, in which he disavowed the first letter by making clear that he does not want any delay to Brexit.
In it, the PM said any further hold-up would be ‘deeply corrosive’, and would ‘damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners’.
He said UK would continue to ratify the deal and urged Brussels to do the same.
The first was the letter demanded by the Benn Act, which asks the EU to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline – but not signed by Boris Johnson (pictured) – using the exact wording specified in the legislation. But in a third letter from Mr Johnson,he disavowed the first by making clear he does not want any delay to Brexit
In his third letter (pictured), the PM said any further hold-up would be ‘deeply corrosive’, and would ‘damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners’
The historic batch of correspondence, which were sent by Sir Tim in both hard copy and electronically, represents the Prime Minister’s defiant riposte to the ‘rebel alliance’ who scuppered his attempt to finally secure Commons support for Brexit today.
Mr Johnson is also steeling himself for an instant legal challenge from pro-Remain groups to his three-letter ploy on the grounds that he did not sign the Benn missive.
However, No 10 lawyers have pointed out that the Benn Act only orders the PM to ‘send’ not ‘sign’ a letter.
‘Our lawyers have allowed a narrow interpretation of the terms. We are completely entitled to do that,’ a senior Government source said last night.
The fate of Mr Johnson’s deal now lies in the hands of Speaker John Bercow – who today hinted that he might not allow a meaningful vote on it – the rebel MPs and other EU leaders, especially French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
European Council president Donald Tusk has confirmed he has received the extension request from Boris Johnson. He said on Twitter: ‘The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react’
The fate of Mr Johnson’s deal now lies in the hands of Speaker John Bercow – who yesterday hinted that he might not allow a meaningful vote on it – the rebel MPs and other EU leaders, especially French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right)
Downing Street is hopeful that other EU leaders will refuse to allow an extension.
One source said that they put the chances at ‘about 50 per cent’, adding: ‘Macron has been particularly trenchant in private about not wanting to extend, and we hope he could take Merkel with him.’
Last night, the French President’s office indeed signalled that they would not back an extension, which officials said was ‘in nobody’s interest’.
The Elysee Palace said given that a deal had been negotiated, ‘it’s now up to the British Parliament to say if it approves or rejects it. There must be a vote on the fundamentals.’
Mr Johnson is also steeling himself for an instant legal challenge from pro-Remain groups (pictured, Oliver Letwin) to his three-letter ploy on the grounds that he did not sign the Benn missive
The expectation is that the EU will delay any decision about an extension until a special summit earmarked for October 28 – just 72 hours before the planned Brexit date. By then Downing Street hopes to have passed a deal through the Commons.
After returning to Downing Street from today’s debate, Mr Johnson spent the evening phoning around other EU leaders to talk them through the contents of his third letter.
‘The request for a delay is not mine,’ he told them. ‘It is Parliament’s request, and if you grant it you are granting it to Parliament, not me. I do not want any delay’.
The PM’s plea to fellow leaders echoed his declaration to the Commons today that ‘I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.’
There were also claims that Mr Johnson had shown to those Tory MPs (pictured, Dominic Grieve and Hilary Benn) he was attempting to win over a text message from Mr Macron, vowing to block any extension
Addressing the first Saturday sitting by MPs since the 1982 Falklands War, Mr Johnson vowed to tell Europe that ‘further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy’.
There were also claims that Mr Johnson had shown to those Tory MPs he was attempting to win over a text message from Mr Macron, vowing to block any extension.
Such a hard line from the EU and national leaders would help Mr Johnson continue his narrative that MPs must vote for his deal or risk leaving the bloc without a deal at the end of the month.
However, there are further looming showdowns with Parliament that could yet force the EU to grant a further delay.
A major flashpoint this week will be when Government lays down its Withdrawal Agreement Bill in order to enshrine Mr Johnson’s deal into law.
Whips fear that a vote on the so-called programme motion – which sets out the amount of time given to MPs to debate legislation – will be hijacked by Remainers.
Rebels are threatening to attempt to derail the swift timetable drawn up by Downing Street to hit their Halloween deadline.
Last night, a former Downing Street Brexit adviser suggested the Government would urge the EU27 to put off any decision on an extension until this crucial vote has been held on Tuesday.
Raoul Ruparel said if the Government loses control of the programme motion, the ‘EU will have to take that into account,’ making an extension much more likely as it ‘will be clear that a deal can’t be ratified’ by October 31.
Last night there was also confusion over exactly when the Government would attempt to bring the Withdrawal Bill to the floor of the House after Commons Leader and hardline Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg opened a fresh row with Speaker John Bercow.
Mr Rees-Mogg said the parliamentary business on Monday would change to include a debate on a motion on the UK’s draft agreement with the EU, which would be followed by a vote.
But his announcement prompted dismay among Opposition MPs, while a furious Mr Bercow expressed his unhappiness with the situation.
The Speaker said he was expecting Ministers to bring forward legislation to secure support for their deal, but showed surprise at the plan to table a re-run of yesterday’s attempted vote.
He outlined that he would consider the matter today before making a ruling tomorrow.
‘Shame on you’: Hate-filled anti-Brexit mob targets Jacob Rees-Mogg’s son Peter aged 12 as they yell ‘traitor’
- About 30 campaigners barracked the Leader of the Commons and his son Peter
- It came as they walked from Parliament to the family’s £5 million home nearby
- Dozen police officers formed protective ring around the pair as protesters booed
by Mark Hookham and Brendan Carlin for the Mail on Sunday
A mob of hardline anti-Brexit protesters hounded Jacob Rees-Mogg and his 12-year-old son in the street after yesterday’s crunch vote, shouting: ‘Shame on you.’
About 30 campaigners barracked the Leader of the Commons and his son Peter as they walked from Parliament to the family’s £5 million home nearby.
A dozen police officers formed a protective ring around the pair as protesters booed, whistled, swore and yelled ‘traitor’.
About 30 campaigners barracked the Leader of the Commons and his son Peter (pictured together) as they walked from Parliament to the family’s £5 million home nearby
The officers then lined up across the street near Mr Rees-Mogg’s five-storey mansion to prevent activists pursuing him to his front door.
Cabinet colleague Michael Gove also had a 12-strong police escort to leave Westminster, while Business Secretary Andrew Leadsom required protection from the ‘frightening’ mob.
She later tweeted: ‘Why do the so-called People’s Vote protesters think it’s OK to abuse, intimidate and scream in the face of someone they don’t agree with?’
The ugly scenes came after tens of thousands of Remain supporters marched on Westminster for a mass rally to coincide with the Commons debate.
A dozen police officers formed a protective ring around the pair as protesters booed, whistled, swore and yelled ‘traitor’
A centre-piece of the protest was a carnival float carrying a Nazi-style effigy of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings.
Controlling a ‘puppet’ Prime Minister, the figure had ‘Demonic Cummings’ written on the side of its head and wore a brown shirt, an SS-style armband and a Union Jack in place of a ‘Hitler’ moustache.
The float was organised by pro-Remain campaign group EU Flag Mafia and designed by controversial German artist Jacques Tilly.
He has previously designed papier mache figurines of Islamist suicide bombers and one depicting former Prime Minister Theresa May with a ‘Brexit’ gun in her mouth. Phil Jeanes, of EU Flag Mafia, drove the sculpture to the UK from the German city of Dusseldorf and last night defended the Nazi imagery.
A centre-piece of the protest was a carnival float carrying a Nazi-style effigy of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured)
‘We’ve got a Prime Minister who is a puppet and… an unelected special adviser who has very strong Right-wing views… So putting him in a brown shirt and Nazi-style armbands brings us back to what was happening in the 1930s in Germany,’ said the 67-year-old.
Videos posted online show Mr Rees-Mogg’s son Peter appearing to look anxious as protesters barracked his father and police formed a phalanx around them. After the mob was blocked from following any further, one protester was heard declaring: ‘Back to the pub.’
Mr Rees-Mogg last night mocked the protesters for being ‘ruder’ than the climate change demonstrators who have brought chaos to parts of London. ‘I think the Remainiacs aren’t as well-mannered as the Extinction Rebellion people,’ he said.
Cabinet colleague Michael Gove also had a 12-strong police escort to leave Westminster (pictured), while Business Secretary Andrew Leadsom required protection from the ‘frightening’ mob
‘I was planning to saunter home but my private office said the police wanted to take me back. I thought it was going to be one policeman and it turned out to be a posse.’
He insisted that his son, who had watched much of the stormy Commons debate from a visitors’ gallery, had been ‘excited’ rather than frightened by the mob.
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said the scenes were a ‘sad statement on what we have become’. Security Minister Brandon Lewis tweeted: ‘Shocking that anyone feels this is right way to behave and to use police time up. Jacob Rees-Mogg showing real class in his composure.’
Mr Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata, a Brexit Party MEP, said: ‘I keep forgetting that the Remoaners are the nice guys.’
A People’s Vote spokesman said: ‘We don’t endorse anybody being followed or barracked by protesters on their way home.’
Asked about the Cummings effigy, the spokesman said he could not comment as he had not seen the float.
Meanwhile, Labour frontbencher Diane Abbott was harangued by a far-Right activist after addressing the rally in Parliament Square.
She was pursued by Danny Tommo, a friend of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, who shouted: ‘The country is so divided, Diane, it’s so divided. You have to stop this. It has to stop.’
Although organisers claimed a million people marched in London yesterday, the figure is likely to be dramatically inflated.
Campaigners claimed the Brexit referendum march last October attracted 700,000 protesters but expert online analysis put the figure at closer to 82,000.