On 19 October, in a special parliamentary session labelled ‘Super Saturday’, MPs rejected the Brexit deal proposed by PM Boris Johnson. The outcome is a huge blow to Johnson, who was forced to send a letter to the EU to request an extension in keeping with the Benn Act.
Johnson has been consistent in resisting an extension to the 31 October Brexit date. Yesterday’s vote, compelling him to request an extension, has therefore made him the centre of more than a few jokes:
Boris Johnson hasn’t been able to get his #SellOutDeal through parliament
The ‘man who could get a deal done’, couldn’t pic.twitter.com/oqAhDYsLKn
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) October 19, 2019
Boris Johnson: “dismayed by this result”
— Dawn Foster (@DawnHFoster) October 19, 2019
“I would rather die in a ditch than send a letter of extension” Boris Johnson 😱 pic.twitter.com/txkM3tCGYg
— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) October 20, 2019
Others, meanwhile, called out the glaring hypocrisy in the establishment media’s response to Johnson:
Do you remember the media furore when it was said that Corbyn “had not bowed low enough” at Remembrance Day service (although his bow was as low as many other leading figures)?
Compare treatment of lying, law-breaking, dangerous Johnson.
Our MSM – including BBC – is a disgrace
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) October 20, 2019
Dear UK journalists,
It's not important whether he signed the frigging letter or not.
HE BROKE HIS PROMISE. He said he'd rather die.
Please stop your stomach-churning hat-doffing to this Eton idiot, get your balls back and start HOLDING JOHNSON AND CO. TO ACCOUNT.
— Tom Pride (@ThomasPride) October 20, 2019
Jog on, Boris!
After Johnson’s humiliating defeat in parliament, Corbyn addressed a rally in Liverpool with a message of hope:
I want to lead a Labour government that will challenge the environmental crisis, that will challenge the housing crisis, and give young people that hope for the future. And say to Boris Johnson and company: jog on with your daft ideas.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 20, 2019
And calls for a general election are doing the rounds again in the wake of the Super Saturday vote:
Whatever happens today, the Brexit crisis has been an ETON MESS from start to finish.
Only a GENERAL ELECTION can sweep the Tories from power and elect a Labour government for the many.
— Dan Carden MP (@DanCardenMP) October 19, 2019
Complying with the law
There have been growing calls for Johnson to comply with the law and engage in negotiations to extend the Brexit deadline. Many people, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, criticised Johnson’s potential contempt:
John McDonnell says Johnson is 'behaving like a spoiled brat'.
He also says this may be contempt of court and, we say, there should not be one law for them and another for us — their privileged positions shouldn't protect them.#JailJohnson #Ridge #Marrpic.twitter.com/L2HGJKAnys
— Corbyn for PM (@CorbynASAP) October 20, 2019
Breaking: Boris Johnson sends unsigned photocopy of letter to EU, stressing it's Parliament's letter & not his, requesting extension to Article 50. This puts him in contempt of court and would land an ordinary person in prison.
Who else thinks Boris Johnson should go to prison?
— RD Hale 🌹 #VoteLabour (@SkyeCitySeries) October 19, 2019
Boris Johnson has lied to the Queen, unlawfully suspended Parliament, is trying to rig the next General election with voter suppression & now, by refusing to sign the Brexit extension letter has shown his utter contempt for Parliament & the Courts https://t.co/88jKP6xdsI
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) October 19, 2019
Letters and bluster
The PM sent a letter to EU leaders without signing it. He also added a note to say he still thinks the UK should leave the EU on 31 October. However, commentators are calling Johnson’s antics “spin” and “bluster”:
This is such transparent spin. The excerpt he’s sent literally says “Prime Minister of the United Kingdom” at the bottom of it and Tusk has already acknowledged receiving a request to delay.
Whether or not Johnson signed it is irrelevant. pic.twitter.com/T42ZobM7nO
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 19, 2019
The thing that matters here is that the EU had received an extension request from the government which it may now act upon. Everything else – all of it – is performative bluster intended to disguise this, and the above tweet is why such bluster works.
— Simon (@simonk_133) October 19, 2019
Forget the spin and the other letters. The story of the night is that Boris Johnson has sent the letter and asked for an extension, after saying he never ever would.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) October 19, 2019
Ultimately, the PM has sent the letter mandated by the Benn Act, and the EU will respond to it accordingly:
The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react. #Brexit
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 19, 2019
how will EU deal with Number 10 letter? EU source: “They take the letter on its merits and ignore the others.“
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) October 19, 2019
Johnson famously said that he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than request an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline. Regardless of what happens this week, at least those who see through his lies and grandstanding will enjoy watching him eat his words.
Since you're here ...
We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.