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BREXIT LIVE: Meaningful vote delayed as Commons backs Letwin amendment

By Francis Jay

Vote on Johnson deal delayed till early next week meaning October 31 deadline may be missed

BREXIT LIVE: Meaningful vote delayed as Commons backs Letwin amendment

It is a case of one step forward, one step back. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit plans have been left in tatters after MPs backed an amendment that will delay a vote on the withdrawal deal agreed with the European Union.

The Commons voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment proposed by former Tory cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin postponing a decision on the PM's deal.

This means the so-called Benn Act will be activated, obliging him to send a letter to the EU immediately asking a delay.

But Johnson (pictured in the Commons) was defiant, telling MPs: "The best thing for the UK and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31.

"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so."

He continued: "No delays, and I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on October 31."

Johnson capped a day of high drama by arranging a flurry of letters to the EU.

The first was unsigned and replicated the wording required in the Benn act to seek an extension of negotiations until January 31 2020. The second was an explanatory letter from Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's Permanent Representative in Brussels, explaining that the first letter was from Parliament and not the Government. And the third was a personal letter explaining that Johnson did not want an extension.

It is expected that the UK Government will attempt to run the vote early next week. The Letwin amendment postpones the “meaningful vote” required to approve the deal. It can only happen once the Withdrawal Agreement bill has completed its passage through the Commons. In effect, this means MPs will have more opportunity to propose amendments, including possibly one for a second referendum.

Markets are expected to be volatile on Monday. Further action in the UK courts is also expected.

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