(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:
"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU. And neither does the law compel me to do so."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent a letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Brexit having been compelled to do so by the law.
But the UK PM, who has said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for an extension, has simultaneously tried to distance himself from that letter by refusing to sign it.
That's prompted criticism from some lawmakers that Johnson is being "juvenile".
The prime minister had hoped that a divorce deal he agreed with EU leaders would get parliamentary backing on Saturday (October 19).
Instead, lawmakers voted for an amendment that delay's the decision on his deal. That exposed Johnson to another law, passed by his opponents, forcing him to ask for a delay until January 31, 2020.
In an unusual step, Johnson then sent three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.
The first was a brief cover note from Britain's EU envoy explaining that the government was simply complying with the law.
The second was the unsigned photocopy of the text Johnson is obliged to send by that law.
And the third was a letter, in which he said he does not want an extension, and that further delay would "damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners".
Johnson did choose to sign that letter.
Tusk said he had received Johnson's request and would consult with EU leaders on how to react.
It is unlikely that the EU's 27 member states will refuse the delay.