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London (CNN) - After three and a half years of tortuous negotiations and political machinations, what happened this Saturday was supposed to happen.
Boris Johnson planned to submit his new brexit agreement to a vote in Parliament, in a historic emergency session that finally promised to clarify the process.
- Boris Johnson suffers a setback in Parliament and must ask for a new deadline for brexit
But in the world of brexit, nothing can be taken for granted. And indeed, what was announced as the "Super Saturday" of brexit became another episode of error.
What happened exactly? And where are we going to stop from now on?
This happened on Super Saturday
An announcement by liberal Democrats against Brexit passes through the place where the main British opposition leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, would give a speech on October 19, 2019. (Credit: PAUL ELLIS / AFP via Getty Images)
The intention of the government was to hold a direct vote on the Johnson agreement, signed in Brussels on Thursday.
But their plans failed when legislators approved an amendment made by former conservative government minister Oliver Letwin, who has worked to prevent the United Kingdom from leaving the European Union without an agreement.
The amendment says that Parliament will "retain the support" of Johnson's Brexit plan until after the other parts of the legislation required to implement it are passed.
- What is the Letwin amendment, a proposal that delayed brexit?
If Johnson had won a vote on his plan on Saturday, he would have avoided the need to send a letter to the European Union requesting an extension of the Brexit process until January 31. That letter is required by the "Benn's Law", a legislation designed to prevent an exit without agreement on October 31. The law required that it be sent before 11 pm London time, in case Parliament does not approve a brexit agreement.
But Letwin and his allies were concerned that, if the agreement was approved and the provisions of Benn's Law fell, on October 31, a chaotic exit could still occur by accident if, by then, lawmakers had not approved the joint complex of legislation that is required to promulgate the brexit agreement.
Downing Street was furious in the vote. Failure to comply with your agreement on Saturday means that the Benn Act went into effect, which requires that extension be requested.
Johnson had bet on his political reputation by delivering Brexit before October 31, and now that is at stake.
Did Boris Johnson ask the European Union to delay Brexit?
Immediately after the vote, the prime minister seemed to imply that he would not.
"I will not negotiate a delay with the European Union, and the law does not oblige me to do so either," he said. "An additional delay will be bad for this country."
Protesters gather at a rally against Brexit in London, in Parliament Square, on October 19, 2019. According to the organizers of the march, one million people attended the march. (Credit: Kiran Ridley / Getty Images)
But the law is clear: the government should send that letter. There is no ambiguity: the Benn Law even establishes the wording.
Speaking to journalists, and in an angry tone after the vote, the prime minister's official spokesman repeatedly refused to say if Johnson would send the letter, or if someone else in the government would send the letter, or if the government would break the law. and I would not send the letter at all. "Governments comply with the law," was all the spokesman said.
Boris Johnson then told the president of the Council of the European Union, Donald Tusk, by telephone that he would effectively send the letter, a European Union official told CNN. Tusk would then begin consultations with Union leaders about the next steps, a process that could take a few days, the official said.
"Waiting for the letter," Tusk wrote on Twitter.
Boris Johnson and Jean Claude Junker announced agreement reaching in the EU on brexit.
What happens next in Parliament?
In the turmoil after the vote, the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the government will present another vote on the agreement on Monday.
"In light of today's decision, I would like to inform the house that Monday's issues will now be a debate on the motion relationship with Section 13 -1B of the European Union Retirement Act 2018 and I will make a new business statement on Monday, ”he said.
Rees-Mogg was referring to a section of the Retirement Law that provides for a vote in the House of Commons on the outcome of an agreement negotiated with the European Union, a so-called "significant vote". Theresa May had three of those, and lost them all.
Normally, the same provision cannot be voted twice in the same parliamentary session. That convention ruined May's plans to hold a fourth vote on his withdrawal agreement. The spokesman, John Bercow, said he will rule on the matter on Monday.
Did the Boris Johnson brexit deal die?
The result of the Letwin amendment is that Johnson was robbed of a direct vote on his Brexit agreement. If the prime minister could have reached an agreement through the House of Commons, against all odds, it would have been a particularly sweet moment of victory.
Downing Street collaborators are furious as they believed they had enough votes in favor, even without the 10 MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party, whom Johnson left when they refused to sign their agreement earlier this week.
All eyes turn to the vote on Monday, when the government will hope to demonstrate parliamentary support for Johnson's law. But the fact is that, to finish Brexit before October 31, as Johnson has repeatedly promised, he must now obtain all stages of the Withdrawal Bill through the House of Commons, the House of Lords and present it in front of the Queen to obtain the Royal Consent. Only then will the provisions of Benn's Law disappear.
Given that he expelled 21 members of his own party for voting in favor of the Benn Act, Johnson has a majority in Parliament of less than 40. And the Democratic Unionist Party, which nominally supports his minority, is furious to be abandoned.
As Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May discovered, obtaining controversial legislation through the House of Commons when you don't have a majority is very difficult.