EU ambassadors have agreed to accept the UK’s request for a Brexit “flextension” until January 31st, 2020, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.
Just three days before the United Kingdom was due to leave the EU on October 31st at 11 pm, the bloc agreed to delay the deadline by three months or until the UK parliament ratify the deal.
The UK will be allowed time to have a general election ahead of Brexit and may leave the EU on the 1st of any month until that date once the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the Commons.
Mr. Johnson, who won the top job by pledging – “do or die” – to deliver Brexit on October 31st, was forced by opponents to request a delay after he was defeated in parliament over the sequencing of the ratification of his divorce deal.
The agreed delay came ahead of crucial votes in the UK Commons today on proposals from the government and opposition Liberal Democrats to call a general election in December. Labour, whose vote would be crucial to the government motion, has been waiting until the EU spelled out the precise duration of any extension.
But reports from London suggest that the government may circumvent the need for a two-thirds majority on its motion by backing a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Fixed Term Parliament Act setting December 9th as a date for the election.
That would require only a simple majority. If it does, Labour’s position becomes moot.
However, the general election would take place before any vote on the withdrawal bill, raising the prospect that a new government could seek to renegotiate it.
Although Mr Johnson would prefer to fight an election having secured Brexit, the Tories remain well ahead in the polls
Brexit has already been delayed twice – from March 29th and April 12th – after Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, failed to get her deal through the British parliament.
Sources close to the Elysee confirmed over the weekend that France’s President Emmanuel Macron had accepted that the increased likelihood of an election in the UK had made his opposition to a three-month extension less tenable.
But ambassadors today insisted once again that the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with prime minister Boris Johnson are non-negotiable
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