UK Ministers have insisted that the country will leave the EU by the October 31 deadline, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s unsigned letter to European Council President Donald Tusk asking for a Brexit extension after he failed to secure votes in Parliament for his new deal.
Senior Minister Michael Gove told Sky News that the government had “the means and ability” to leave on October 31, the BBC reported.
Gove, who as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is in charge of no-deal planning, said “the Prime Minister’s determination is absolute” and the government’s “determined policy” was to meet that deadline.
“We know that the EU want us to leave, we know that we have a deal that allows us to leave,” he added.
Similarly, Gove’s colleague, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, told the BBC that Johnson had “proved the doubters wrong” by securing a new Brexit deal with Brussels and he was confident the UK would still leave on Halloween.
After losing the crunch vote in a historic Saturday session in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister ordered a senior diplomat to send an unsigned photocopy of the request for a delay, which was forced on him by MPs last month.
Johnson has spoken to fellow leaders and Mr Tusk, telling them the letter “is Parliament’s letter, not my letter”.
Tusk has acknowledged receipt of the UK’s extension request and said he would consult EU leaders “on how to react”.
The request was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, which made clear that he personally believed a delay would be damaging.
The fate of Johnson’s deal now lies in the hands of Speaker John Bercow – who on Saturday hinted that he might not allow a meaningful vote on it – the rebel MPs and other EU leaders, especially French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.