Nicola Sturgeon urges EU to delay Brexit long enough for a second referendum

German minister says it ‘goes without saying’ that the EU will grant a Brexit delay if Boris Johnson’s deal falls – as Nicola Sturgeon demands an extension is long enough for a second referendum

  • German finance minister has suggested bloc will definitely give an extension 
  • Scottish First minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged the EU to grant a Brexit delay
  • Boris Johnson sent letter to EU with a message urging them to refuse extension  

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.

European leaders today made clear they will grant an extension if Boris Johnson’s deal falls – as Nicola Sturgeon demanded they make it long enough to hold a second referendum.

German finance minister Peter Altmaier suggested the bloc will ignore the PM’s plea for it to shun a delay and allow the UK to leave at Halloween. 

Meanwhile, the Scottish First Minister and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford issued the plea in a joint letter to European Council president Donald Tusk.

They warned it is ‘simply impossible’ to scrutinise the legislation implementing the Withdrawal Agreement in the 10 days left before the departure date. 

The intervention will cause fury after the PM grudgingly sent a letter asking for a postponement beyond his ‘do or die’ October 31 date.

But he has made clear he does not want the bloc to agree any delay, saying the deal can still be ratified before the deadline. 

In another apparent effort to undermine Mr Johnson’s tight timetable, senior MEP Guy Verhofstadt declared today that the European Parliament will not consider ratifying the deal until after it goes through Westminster. 

German finance minister Peter Altmaier (pictured in Berlin last week) suggested the bloc will ignore the PM’s plea for it to shun a delay and allow the UK to leave at Halloween

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured at SNP conference last week) today urged the EU to delay Brexit long enough for a second referendum

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured at SNP conference last week) today urged the EU to delay Brexit long enough for a second referendum

The letter from Ms Sturgeon and the Welsh First Minister to Donald Tusk

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford

The letter from Ms Sturgeon and the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (right) to Donald Tusk

In their letter to Mr Tusk, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford pledged their support for a second referendum on EU membership, calling for an extension long enough to allow for a second poll which would have the option to remain on the ballot paper.

They said it would would be ‘simply impossible for us to fulfil our constitutional responsibilities in this timescale’.

The letter added: ‘An extension would allow us to adequately scrutinise the agreement and the draft legislation in accordance with our constitutional responsibilities.

‘While clearly it is a matter for the council to consider how long such an extension should be, we would favour one which is long enough to enable a referendum with remain on the ballot paper to be held in the UK.

‘Both of our Governments and legislatures are in favour of such a referendum and of the UK remaining in the EU.’

The letter addressed to the Prime Minister said: ‘We therefore wish to state in the clearest possible terms that we and our legislatures need time to analyse and consider the draft Bill.

‘We share the view which lay behind the amendment passed by a clear majority of the House of Commons that the time between now and October 31 provides insufficient opportunity to undertake this essential scrutiny.’

The letter also called on the Prime Minister to ‘comply fully and in good faith’ with the Benn Act – which legislated a request for an extension if a deal hadn’t been reached with the EU by October 19

Meanwhile, European ministers have been hinting that they will approve an extension if the PM’s deal runs into trouble in Parliament.

Speaking on German radio, Mr Altmaier described the UK as ‘deeply divided’ and said it ‘goes without saying’ there should be a delay rather than No Deal.

Boris Johnson has made clear he does not want the bloc to agree any delay, saying the deal can still be ratified before the deadline

Boris Johnson has made clear he does not want the bloc to agree any delay, saying the deal can still be ratified before the deadline

Mr Johnson sent the EU an unsigned Benn Act letter asking for a Brexit delay until January 31 next year

Mr Johnson sent the EU an unsigned Benn Act letter asking for a Brexit delay until January 31 next year

Donald Tusk responded to the letters by saying he would now consider the extension request

Donald Tusk responded to the letters by saying he would now consider the extension request

‘We have already twice agreed to an extension,’ he said.

‘I have repeatedly said, as my own opinion, I am not ideologically opposed to extending again for a few days or a few weeks if you then certainly get a good solution that excludes a hard Brexit.

‘There must be a decision as to whether to exit with an agreement or to seek a different solution…If the British are to opt for one of the longer-term options, that is, new elections or a new referendum, then it goes without saying that the European Union should do it, for me anyway.’ 

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