UPDATES WITH UK PRIME MINISTER'S REMARKS, BACKGROUND
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he has "paused" a bill on EU withdrawal agreement after suffering a defeat on a vote that would enable him to fast-track legislation and leave the EU on Oct. 31 deadline.
Lawmakers passed the government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill in its first stage in the House of Commons in an earlier vote with a majority of 30 after 329 MPs voted for it and 299 against.
But the MPs rejected a government-proposed timetable, which could carry the legislation forward into later stages in a 322-308 vote.
MPs have debated all day the bill, which includes Johnson’s revised Brexit deal and passed it. However, the lawmakers did not authorize the parliament to work longer hours to legislate it, saying such an important piece of legislation should be scrutinized longer.
Johnson welcomed the passing of the bill after the votes but said he would pause it as the timetable has not been approved.
"Can I say in response how welcome it is, even joyful that for the first time in this long saga, this house has actually accepted its responsibilities together, come together, and embraced a deal?" he said.
"I congratulate honorable members across the house on the scale of our collective achievement because, just a few weeks ago, hardly anybody believed that we could reopen the withdrawal agreement, let alone abolish the backstop," he said.
"And certainly nobody thought we could secure the approval of the house for a new deal and we should not overlook the significance of this moment".
However, he also expressed disappointment with the timetable vote as the government is not now in a position to leave the EU on the Oct. 31 deadline with a deal.
"I must express my disappointment that the house has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK would be in a position to leave the EU on Oct. 31 with a deal," Johnson said.
He said the U.K. faces now "further uncertainty and the EU must make up their minds over how to answer parliament’s request for a delay".
He also said: "The government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome".
Johnson sent a request of extension to the Oct. 31 deadline to the EU after a piece of legislation -- Benn Act -- forced him to do so.
The EU earlier on Tuesday said it would decide whether to accept the U.K. request for the further extension to the Brexit deadline in light of developments in London.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, the European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU should be ready for all scenarios.
"I am consulting the leaders on how to react, and will decide in the coming days," Tusk said.