The development comes after MPs voted to ratify an amendment by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin requesting an extension, which Sir Oliver claims was designed to protect against a no deal exit. As a result, the Government did not introduce legislation on the new withdrawal agreement agreed this week, but are understood to be preparing to do so next week. The signed letter said: “When I spoke in Parliament this morning, I noted the corrosive impact of the long delay in delivering the mandate of the British people from the 2016 referendum.

“I made clear that, while I passionately believe that both the the UK and EU will benefit from our decision to withdraw and develop a new relationship, that relationship will be founded on our deep respect and affection for our shared culture, civilisation, values and interests.

“We will remain the EU’s closest partner and friend.”

Mr Johnson insisted: “The deal we approved at last week’s European Council is a good deal for the whole of the UK and whole of the EU.

“Regrettably, Parliament missed the opportunity to inject momentum into the ratification process for the new Withdrawal Agreement.

“The UK Permanent Representative will therefore submit the request mandated by the EU Withdrawal Act 2019 later today.”

The letter noted it was up to the European Council to grant the extension and a new summit may need to take place.

Mr Johnson continued: “Meanwhile, although I would have preferred a different result today, the Government will press ahead with ratification and introduce the necessary legislation next week.

“I remain confident that we will complete the process by 31 October.

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His letter asking for the extension read “Yours sincerely, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” but had a gap where the signature was meant to be printed.

Sir Oliver is due to stand down at the next election and the letter sent following his amendment read: “The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019.

“It provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

“I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided.”

The letter concluded: “The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.

“If parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.”

If Britain has to wait until January 31 to leave, 1318 days would have passed from the day of the referendum to the date of actual departure.

Since June 23 2016, Britain has had three different Prime Ministers.

The first, David Cameron, resigned after the result was announced.



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