The European Union leaders have agreed to extend the UK departure date until 31 January 2020, indirectly acknowledging that the British government will not meet the foreseen deadline on October 31.
The president of the EU Council Donald Tusk assessed the delay as “flextension“, underlining that there is no need to keep membership in the block until the date, but Britons could leave anytime before the date as soon as the Withdrawal Agreement was approved by Westminster.
The new Brexit delay has been announced amid MPs intend to vote on proposals by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for an early general election on December 12.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Liberal Democrat’s (Lib/Dem) have also proposed an election a few days earlier – on December 9.
The UK was due to leave the EU on October 31, but PM Johnson was required to request an extension after Westminster failed to agree a Withdrawal Agreement.
Boris Johnson had repeatedly stated the UK would leave on 31 October meeting the deadline regardless the Withdrawal Agreement, but the law – known as the Benn Act – imposes to accept the EU’s extension proposal in absence of the Brexit deal.
The Downing Street source said to the BBC that the government would introduce a bill “almost identical” to the Lib Dem/SNP option on October 29 if Labour voted their proposal down later, and “we will have a pre-Christmas election anyway”.
The European Union has agreed to the UK request for a Brexit deadline extension but set no new exact date, offering to Westminster sufficient time to decide on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposal for a snap election. (Image above: Michel Barnier, archive)
“There was full agreement on the need for an extension,” an EU official said after ambassadors discussed postponing the deadline, less than a week before the agreed date of October 31.
“Work will continue over the weekend” and the envoys will meet again in Brussels on October 28-29, the civil servant said.
Germany is willing to accept the UK short-term extension for its departure from the European Union if it will be for the right political reason, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview to N-TV channel.
“We need to know: What will be the reason for this?” Maas said. “If it will be about pushing back the date by two or three weeks to allow lawmakers in London to implement the ratification of the exit bill in a reasonable way, I think this will rather not be a problem” the Minister added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long, after a defeat in Westminster made ratification of his Withdrawal Agreement (WA) by the October 31 deadline almost impossible.
British MEP and leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage (pictured) said six month extension would be right time top organise general elections and move on with Brexit.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU and the UK were “very close” to concluding Article 50 Agreement, often referred to as “Brexit Deal”. After the European Council Summit, endorsing the deal, the approval by Westminster and the European Parliament will be the final steps to seal it.
President Tusk was addressing the press corps at Brussels Brexit Summit after the 27 European Union member states agreed to approve of a deal, under which Britain will leave on October 31 in an orderly fashion.
However the experts say the Brexit deal is far from being sealed, while there is growing scepticism among British Members of Parliament, who oppose it, claiming that the second version of the Article 50 Agreement is worse than the forme Prime Minister May deal.
“Since day one, the EU has been United. We negotiated with the #UK as one union, one family. We put peace and people above everything else. Now it’s time to turn a page and look towards our new partnership with the UK #Brexit”, the EU top negotiator Michel Barnier wrote on his Twitter micro blog.
The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on September 24 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful, pushing the process of Britain’s exit from the European Union deeper into turmoil.
The unanimous decision by the court’s 11 judges undermines Johnson and gives legislators more scope to oppose his promise to leave the EU on October 31. Opposition leaders demanded that he should resign immediately.
“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” Supreme Court President Brenda Hale said, reading out the milestone document.
European Parliament President David Sassoli today received a phone call from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It was the first conversation between the two leaders.
Prime Minister Johnson invited president Sassoli to meet in person in London and stressed the importance of the European Parliament in the Brexit process. He expressed his wish to find a positive agreement on the United Kingdom departure from the European Union. President Sassoli responded that this was also the wish of the bloc of EU27.
The call followed the approval of a new Brexit resolution which reaffirmed the European Parliament’s support for an orderly and managed Brexit. President Sassoli stressed in the call that Parliament’s priorities remain guaranteeing citizens’ rights and protecting the peace process in Northern Ireland. He also reiterated that any agreement will need to be approved by both the UK and European Parliament, so robust debate and parliamentary scrutiny is essential. The European institutions are ready to discuss any written proposal from the UK government to unblock the current impasse.
EU and British negotiators will continue talks next week, a UK government spokeswoman said in conclusion of the latest round of talks in Brussels.
“The UK has presented some ideas on an all-island SPS (animals and food products) solution. Further discussions between teams will take place next week,” the spokesperson said.
None of the EU proposals on Irish border were accepted by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. According to the European Parliament representative to Brexit talks, Guy Verhofstadt all three EU proposals on Irish border made by the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker did not get an approval from the UK government.