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EU plays for time after Johnson spars with U.K. Parliament on Brexit

The European Union will play for time rather than rush to decide on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctant request to delay Brexit again, diplomats with the bloc said after a meeting on Sunday.

EU 'looking for more clarity' toward the end of the week

Protesters cheer during the People's Vote Rally in London's Parliament Square on Saturday. Thousands took to the streets demanding a second referendum to give the British public the final say on Brexit. (Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

The European Union will play for time rather than rush to decide on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctant request to delay Brexit again, diplomats with the bloc said after a 15-minute meeting on Sunday.

The fractious British Parliament refused to vote on Johnson's new Brexit withdrawal deal on Saturday, a move that forced him to seek a third postponement of Britain's departure from the bloc. It has so far been envisaged for Oct. 31.

At a rare Sunday meeting of ambassadors of the 27 states that will make up the EU after Brexit, the diplomats decided to forward Johnson's deal to the European Parliament for its required approval. The EU chamber sits in Strasbourg next week.

"We're looking for more clarity toward the end of the week, hoping that by that time we will also see how things develop in London," one senior EU diplomat said.

Another one added the meeting was very brief: "No questions, no discussion. We are waiting."

The chair of European Union leaders, Donald Tusk, said on Saturday he had received the extension request and he would now be consulting with EU capitals on how to react.

Delay request sent in writing

While weary of the tortuous Brexit process, EU leaders are keen to avoid a disorderly no-deal Brexit and are unlikely to reject the request. They hope the deal can eventually be approved in London.

After the British Parliament refused to endorse Johnson's deal at the first time of asking on Saturday, the prime minister sent an unsigned letter to the European Union late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain's impending Oct. 31 departure
from the bloc, as required by British law.

He followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favour another Brexit extension, explaining that he personally did not want the "deeply corrosive" postponement.

With files from The Associated Press

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