Boris Johnson will be forced to ask the EU to delay Brexit, after Members of Parliament voted against holding a vote to approve his deal with the EU.
The House of Commons had been due to vote on Saturday afternoon on whether to approve the deal Johnson agreed this week with European leaders.
However, Members of Parliament instead voted by 322 to 306 votes for an amendment which delays the vote on Johnson’s deal until after Johnson has passed the deal into UK law.
Responding to the vote, Johnson said he regretted that “alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.”
This means that Johnson will now be legally obliged to write to the EU requesting another delay to Brexit, under the terms of a law passed last month by opposition MPs.
However, Johnson insisted “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU” and would tell EU leaders he does not want to extend Brexit, even if he has to write a letter to them.
“Further delay would be bad for this country, bad for our European Union, and bad for democracy,” the prime minister said.
Welcoming the result, opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as “an emphatic decision by this house that has declined to support the prime minister’s deal and clearly voted to stop a no-deal crash-out from the European Union.”
He called on Johnson to withdraw his refusal to negotiate a delay,” saying “the Prime Minister must now comply with the law.”
A spokesperson for the prime minister refused to say whether he would send the letter but told journalists that “the government complies with the law.”
The House of Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs that he would be willing to write a letter on the prime minister’s behalf if he were required to do so.
Watch Boris Johnson: I will not negotiate Brexit delay