The Prime Minister finally secured a new Brexit deal with the EU last week after weeks of intense negotiations leading up to the European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. He was preparing to put that deal to MPs in the House of Commons for a meaningful vote during the first Saturday sitting in 37 years. But Boris Johnson was dealt a huge blow after MPs backed an amendment from Sir Oliver Lewin that forced the Government to request a Brexit delay from the EU until all the legislation required to leave has been ratified.
It is claimed just 48 hours earlier at the summit in the Belgian capital, the Prime Minister made a number of desperate pleas to EU leaders as he talked them through his Brexit plan.
Two diplomats briefed on his comments at the European Council meeting on Thursday told Playbook he was a “bit sentimental” about his childhood in Brussels.
They also said he was also sentimental about the UK “always being half-hearted” about the EU.
Mr Johnson even gave the EU leaders an early look at his passionate and energetic speech and various interventions at the House of Commons on Saturday, according to an account by participants of a debrief of the Brexit part of Thursday’s proceedings.
Brexit news: Boris Johnson made desperate please to EU leaders
Brexit news: The Prime Minister shooks hands on a deal with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
They said the Prime Minister wants to “reconcile” society in Britain and then to press ahead with building a real “partnership” with the EU, as opposed to being a competitor only and lowering standards.
This came as Angela Merkel ignored a private plea from Mr Johnson to sell his Brexit deal as the only option to avoid a no deal departure.
During last week’s summit, the German Chancellor joined other EU leaders in welcoming the agreement struck with the British Prime Minister.
But she then issued a stark warning, destroying any hope the UK could could expect preferential treatment from its former EU partners.
Brexit news: Angela Merkel issued a stark warning for the UK
Mrs Merkel said: “It will depend on our free trade agreement, how similar our standards will be. The closer the relationship, the simpler the access to the single market.
“But Great Britain will consider all these things once more during the negotiation of the future relationship. Then we will see how successful Britain becomes, and how successful the 27 EU member states.”
She added: “Great Britain will no longer belong to the union and as a third country with a free trade agreement it will become an economic rival.
“Britain will also lose something, because being part of the single market is a huge advantage.”
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Brexit news: Donald Tusk said he will ‘now start consulting EU leaders on how to react’
Brexit news: EU leaders must now decide whether to grant an extension
Following defeat in the Commons on Saturday, the Benn Act came into play, forcing the Prime Minister to ask the EU for another delay to Brexit.
Mr Johnson sent a letter to Brussels asking for another delay, but did not sign it, and accompanied it with a second, signed letter which warned another extension would be a mistake.
EU leaders met on Sunday to discuss the result of the vote in the House of Commons the previous day.
Despite suffering yet another disastrous day in the Commons, Mr Johnson remained defiant, and said: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so.”
Job losses per EU member state in a hard Brexit scenario
He added: “I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I have told everyone in the last eight days that I have served as Prime Minister: that further delay will be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”
The Prime Minister spoke to European Council President Donald Tusk via telephone later that evening and told him to expect the letter imminently.
Following the phone call between the two leaders, an EU official told Politico Mr Tusk “will on that basis start consulting EU leaders on how to react. This may take a few days.”
The European Council President confirmed he had received the letter, and tweeted: “The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react.”
Brexit news: Emmanuel Maccron does not want antoher extension
But just over 24 hours earlier at the European Council summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not think there should be another extension to Brexit.
The Government will today attempt to hold another vote on the Brexit deal – without the Lewin amendment.
But that decision will lie with House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.