Boris Johnson warns MPs fresh Brexit delay would be 'corrosive of public trust' as he faces bid to force extension

Posted On: 
19th October 2019

Boris Johnson has warned MPs that a fresh delay to Brexit would be "corrosive of public trust" as he faced a fresh effort to force him to ask for an extension.

Boris Johnson addresses the House of Commons.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister said there can "no longer be any argument for further delay" as Commons Speaker John Bercow confirmed that MPs will get the chance to vote on a bid to compel him to ask the EU for one.

The amendment tabled by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin seeks to bolster the Benn Act, which urges the Prime Minister to ask the EU for an extension if he has not managed to get his deal through Parliament by 11pm on Saturday.

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If passed, it would force the Prime Minister to ask Brussels for an extension to the 31 October deadline until every piece of legislation needed to make Brexit happen has passed through the Commons.

But it would also mean that MPs were withholding formal approval of Mr Johnson's deal, inserting fresh confusion into the process.

Addressing the Commons as the debate on his deal got underway, Mr Johnson said his agreement could "heal the rift in British politics" and "unite the warring instincts in us all" as he urged MPs to back it.

But he warned: "I must tell the House in all candour that there is very little appetite among our friends in the EU for this business to be protracted by one extra day.

"They have had three-and-a-half years of this debate. It has distracted them from their own projects and their own ambitions. And if there is one feeling that unites the British public with a growing number of officials in the EU - it is a burning desire to get Brexit done."

The Prime Minister added: "I must tell the House, again in all candour, that whatever letters they may seek to force the Government to write it cannot change my judgement that further delay is pointless expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust.

"People simply won't understand how politicians can say with one breath that they want delay to avoid no deal - and then with the next breath that they still want to delay when a great deal is there to be done."

Arguing that politicins had spent years "consumed by a single issue that has at times felt incapable of resolution", Mr Johnson urged MPs to "finally achieve that resolution".

"Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together - today, as I believe, people at home are hoping and expecting, with a new way forward and a new and better deal both for Britain and for our friends in the EU," he said.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned his own MPs - who could be crucial in getting an agreement over the line - not to support the agreement, saying Mr Johnson "cannot be trusted and these benches will not be duped".

"Labour is not prepared to sell-out the communities we represent," he said. 

"We are not prepared to sell out their future.  And we will not back this sell-out deal.

"This is about our communities now and our future generations."