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Wednesday, 13 November 2019 2.51 PM IST

British MPs vote to force Brexit delay, Boris Johnson stays dug-in

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After several hours of heated debate, senior politicians - including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott - were escorted from parliament past jeering demonstrators by phalanxes of police.

The European Commission said Britain must now inform the EU executive of its next steps as soon as possible.

A French diplomatic source said another delay would be in nobody's interest but the EU would be loath to propel the United Kingdom towards a disorderly exit by refusing to delay.

BREXIT DELAY?

In a move designed to prevent the United Kingdom slipping out of the EU without a deal by design or default, Letwin's amendment delays parliament's ultimate decision on Johnson's Brexit deal until the very end of the process.

By supporting Letwin, whom Johnson had expelled from the Conservative Party, parliament exposes the prime minister to another law passed by his opponents which demands he ask for a delay until Jan. 31, 2020 unless he had a deal approved by the end of Saturday.

Even if he is given an extension he doesn't want by the EU, Johnson could still take the country out of the bloc on Oct. 31 because the law allows him to if he can get all the legislation approved by that date.

Rees-Mogg said the government planned to put Johnson's deal to a debate and vote on Monday, but the house speaker John Bercow said he would rule on Monday whether he would allow that.

Letwin said he hoped Johnson's deal would succeed, but he wanted "an insurance policy which prevents the UK from crashing out on 31 October by mistake if something goes wrong during the passage of the implementing legislation".

Three years after the country voted 52-48% to leave the European project, many Britons say they are bored with the whole Brexit argument and just want the process to end. But others demonstrating on Saturday remain angry that Britain is leaving the EU and want that reversed.

Hannah Barton, 56, a cider maker from Derbyshire in central England, was draped in the EU flag. "I am incensed that we are not being listened to," she said.

"We feel that we are voiceless. This is a national disaster waiting to happen and it is going to destroy the economy."

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, backed a second referendum. "Voting for a deal today won't end Brexit. It won't deliver certainty and the people should have the final say," he told parliament.

Protesters gathered outside the parliament building cheered as lawmakers voted in favour of Letwin's amendment.

'SUPER SATURDAY'

Brexit "Super Saturday" topped a frenetic week which saw Johnson confound his opponents by clinching a new Brexit deal with the EU.

When it comes to a vote in a divided parliament where he has no majority, Johnson must win the support of 320 lawmakers to pass his deal.

If he wins, he will go down in history as the leader who delivered a Brexit - for good or bad - that pulls the United Kingdom far out of the EU's orbit.

Should he fail, Johnson will face the humiliation of Brexit unravelling after repeatedly promising that he would get it done - "do or die" - by Oct. 31.

Johnson's predecessor Theresa May was forced to delay the departure date. Parliament rejected her deal three times, by margins of between 58 and 230 votes, earlier this year.

He says lawmakers face the option of either approving the deal or propelling the United Kingdom to a disorderly no-deal exit that could divide the West, hurt global growth and bring renewed violence to Northern Ireland.

To win, Johnson must persuade enough Brexit-supporting rebels in both his Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party to back his deal. His Northern Irish allies and the three main opposition parties oppose it.

Some influential hardline Brexit supporters have said they will support the deal.

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