European reaction: Leaders in no rush after Brexit delay
Updated 01:16, 21-Oct-2019
Gary Parkinson, Katherine Berjikian
Britain's MPs delayed a Brexit decision on Saturday (Credit: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Britain's MPs delayed a Brexit decision on Saturday (Credit: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Europe will be keeping a watchful eye on the latest Brexit developments, as the UK Parliament plans to vote on the withdrawal deal on Tuesday. 

This is despite several UK politicians stating the UK will leave the EU as planned. Conservative MP Michael Gove told journalists on Sunday the UK will leave the EU on 31 October and has started no-deal preparations. 

Dominic Raab, the UK government's foreign secretary, told the BBC on Sunday he thinks Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal will be passed in the Commons on Tuesday. "We appear to have the numbers to get it through," he said. 

Johnson, for his part, wrote several letters to the EU asking for an extension. He was required by the so-called Benn Act to do this and sent three letters in total on Saturday. 

He sent one letter that asked for a Brexit extension until 31 January, a second letter to the UK ambassador that explained why he sent the first letter, and a third letter that stated: "That a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us."



Goldman Sachs, an investment bank and financial firm, raised its "odds" of a successful deal from 60 percent to 65 percent on Thursday. It was also one of several banks that called their currency traders into their London and New York offices on Sunday to help investors navigate the changing Brexit landscape. 


Guy Verhofstadt awaits Britain's decision (Credit: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Guy Verhofstadt awaits Britain's decision (Credit: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)


The EU's response 

The EU has remained detached from the situation, and is waiting for the UK to vote on the divorce agreement before making final plans. Diplomats from the 27 remaining EU states had a 15-minute meeting on Sunday to discuss the new withdrawal bill. They decided to pass the bill on to the EU parliament, which sits in Strasbourg next week.

One senior diplomat said: "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." Another told reporters there were, "No questions, no discussion. We are waiting."

In Paris, a French diplomatic source was also circumspect. "France will consult with its European partners and cannot take a decision at this stage," the source said. "A deal has been negotiated, it is up to the British Parliament to approve it or not. A meaningful vote is necessary."

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva quickly tweeted after the UK parliament voted to delay approving Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal to say: "It will be for the UK government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible."

Donald Tusk, president of the European council, tweeted on 19 October: "The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react.” 

The EU's chief Brexit official Guy Verhofstadt said his Brexit Steering Group would still meet on Monday, as planned, despite the delay in the British Parliament. Referencing the People's Vote protest march attended by hundreds of thousands in London, he tweeted: "Whatever happens next, the marches outside the Parliament show just how important a close EU-UK future relationship is."

Irish leader Leo Varadkar addressed the big question hanging over Saturday evening – whether Britain would ask for a deadline extension. "The EU and UK agreed a Withdrawal Agreement on Thursday that defends Ireland's interests," tweeted Varadkar. "The Commons voted [on Saturday] to defer a decision on whether or not to ratify that agreement. To date, no request for an extension has been made by the UK Government."


Leo Varadkar made plans with Boris Johnson last week (Credit: Julien Warnand, Pool Photo via AP)

Leo Varadkar made plans with Boris Johnson last week (Credit: Julien Warnand, Pool Photo via AP)


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was more forthcoming, insisting he did not see the vote as a rejection of Brexit, but as a delay. He tweeted that Poland "will support a positive approach on EU level to Boris Johnson's government proposal." Adding that for the 27 EU leaders, "avoiding chaotic, no-deal Brexit should be our top priority."

Source(s): Reuters