FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a joint news conference with European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar at the European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will play for time rather than rush to decide on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reluctant request to delay Brexit again, diplomats with the bloc said after a 15-minute meeting on Sunday.
The fractious British parliament refused to vote on Johnson’s new Brexit withdrawal deal on Saturday, a move that forced him to seek a third postponement of Britain’s departure from the bloc. It has so far been envisaged for Oct. 31.
At a rare Sunday meeting of ambassadors of the 27 states that will make up the EU after Brexit, the diplomats decided to forward Johnson’s deal to the European Parliament for its required approval. The EU chamber sits in Strasbourg next week.
“We’re looking for more clarity towards the end of the week, hoping that by that time we will also see how things develop in London,” one senior EU diplomat said.
Another one added the meeting was very brief: “No questions, no discussion. We are waiting.”
The chairman of European Union leaders, Donald Tusk, said on Saturday he had received the extension request and he would now be consulting with EU capitals on how to react.
While weary of the tortuous Brexit process, EU leaders are keen to avoid a disorderly no-deal Brexit and are unlikely to reject the request. They hope the deal can eventually be approved in London.
After the British parliament refused to endorse Johnson’s deal at the first time of asking on Saturday, the prime minister sent a letter to the bloc requesting a delay, as required by a law passed earlier by parliament.
Johnson, who has insisted that Britain will leave on Oct. 31 come what may, added another note, however, in which he explained that he personally did not want the “deeply corrosive” postponement.
Reporting by John Chalmers and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Frances Kerry