EU leaders endorse new Brexit deal as President says 'no need for extension'
European leaders have unanimously endorsed the new Brexit deal struck with the UK, formally sending it to the British Parliament for ratification.
The European Council announced in a tweet that the leaders had voted on the new tentative deal, which may finally end the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson now faces the Herculean task of selling the accord to his recalcitrant parliament — including his allies in Northern Ireland — at a special session being held on Saturday, only the first time since 1982 that British lawmakers have been at work on that day.
Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed as they met in Brussels hours after the announcement that there was no need for a Brexit extension beyond October 31.
Juncker, who was "happy about the deal and sad about Brexit", said "there is no need for any kind" of extension.
It's unclear what UK lawmakers will make of the suggestion if the new deal is not ratified on their side at the weekend, a situation that would potentially pave the way for a disastrous no-deal exit.
Earlier, Johnson struck a celebratory tone as he announced the breakthrough of "a great new deal that takes back control".
Juncker said on Twitter: "We have one! It's a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions".
The pound has surged on the back of the news following a week of volatility amid conflicting reports of progress. It jumped to $1.2934 from $1.2805 earlier in the morning.
New deal 'even worse' than Theresa May's
Now that the EU collectively endorses the agreement, Johnson will need to convince enough MPs at an emergency sitting on Saturday to vote for the UK to support it.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has already condemned the new deal as "even worse" than the settlement reached by Johnson's predecessor that was repeatedly rejected by British lawmakers.
"From what we know, it seems the Prime Minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May's, which was overwhelmingly rejected," Corbyn said in a statement.
He says the "sell out deal won't bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote."
Meanwhile, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has urged the UK Parliament to reject the new tentative deal based on his belief that is it "just not Brexit" and would bind Britain to the EU in too many ways.
He said he would prefer an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline to be followed by a national election rather than a parliamentary vote in favour of the new terms.
Farage said today that he favours a "clean break" with Europe rather than "another European treaty."
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, has said her party will not vote for the new Brexit deal.
She said today that the deal announced "would take Scotland out of the European Union, out of the single market and out of the customs union against the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland."
She says in a written statement that her party's lawmakers "will not vote for Brexit in any form."
The SNP has 35 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.
Sturgeon, who has long championed a second independence referendum for Scotland, says "it is clearer than ever that the best future for Scotland is one as an equal, independent European nation.
Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party says it remains opposed to the outline Brexit deal announced this morning.
The party, a key ally of Johnson's, says it stands by a statement issued earlier by leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds, which said the DUP "could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues."
Jo Swinson, the leader of Britain's pro-Europe Liberal Democrats, says the party is "more determined than ever" to stop Brexit and to "give the public the final say."
The party is in favour of holding a second referendum on the Brexit question. Its policy is also to halt the Brexit process by revoking the Article 50 letter that triggered it if Swinson becomes prime minister.
The arrangements are key to guaranteeing an open border between the UK's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, which has been the main obstacle to a Brexit deal.
With Johnson's Northern Irish allies the Democratic Unionist Party currently rejecting the deal, the prime minister will likely need support of some pro-Brexit Labour lawmakers to get the deal through Parliament.
— WITH WIRES
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