‘Relieved no one died in a ditch’: EU Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt trolls Boris Johnson over extension

Ross McGuinness

Boris Johnson was goaded by the the EU’s Brexit chief after the UK was granted an extension until next year.

On Monday, EU leaders agreed to extend Brexit until January 31, 2020, meaning Britain will not leave as planned on Thursday.

The prime minister had previously promised he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than miss the October 31 deadline.

Shortly after the decision, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, appeared to troll Mr Johnson by tweeting: “Relieved that finally no one died in a ditch.”

He added: “Whether the UK's democratic choice is revoke or an orderly withdraw, confirmed or not in a second referendum, the uncertainty of Brexit has gone on for far too long. This extra time must deliver a way forward.”

EU Council president Donald Tusk said it was a “flextension”, meaning Britain can leave before the deadline if a deal is approved by Parliament.

But in the House of Commons, there is still confusion about the way forward.

On Monday, MPs will vote on a proposal put forward by Mr Johnson for an early general election on December 12.

However, given Labour’s opposition to the plan, it is not expected to gain the two-thirds support required by MPs.

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But the government is reportedly planning another strategy, hijacking a scheduled bill by the Liberal Democrats and SNP for an election three days earlier on December 9, which crucially only requires a simple majority backing in the Commons.

A source for Number 10 told the Press Association it will introduce an “almost identical” bill to that proposed by the two parties in a bid to secure an election, if their own plan is voted down.

European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt appeared to poke fun at Boris Johnson's deadline promise (Picture: Getty)
European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt appeared to poke fun at Boris Johnson's deadline promise (Picture: Getty)

The source said: "Tonight is Labour's last chance to have an election with Brexit done - they can vote tonight for the 12th and get Brexit done before Parliament is dissolved.

"If not, we will introduce a bill almost identical to the SNP bill tomorrow and we will have a pre-Christmas election anyway.

"This Parliament has repeatedly failed to respect its promise to respect the referendum.

"Millions of families and businesses can't plan because of constant delays. We need a new Parliament by Christmas so we can get Brexit done in January and the country can move on."

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