Brexit delayed again: EU agrees to three-month 'flextension'

28 October 2019, 09:40

Mr Tusk says the new date will be a 'flextension'
Mr Tusk says the new date will be a 'flextension'. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The EU has agreed to extend the Brexit deadline for another three months, according to Council President Donald Tusk.

The extension will last until 31 January instead of the original date set for this Thursday.

Mr Tusk said the agreement will serve as a "flextension", meaning the UK would be able to leave the EU before the new date if Parliament approves a deal.

"The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure," he added.

The new extension marks is the third of its kind and the first for Boris Johnson, following two under the leadership of Theresa May.

Mr Johnson has previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than miss the Halloween deadline, but was forced to ask for extra time last week to begin preparations for a possible general election.

He would like to hold an election on 12 December, but will need to secure the support of two-thirds of Parliament in a vote on Monday evening in order to do so.

The Labour Party said it would back the election if the government confirms it will not see through a no-deal scenario and if an extension is agreed.

But in the meantime, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have put forward a Bill to grant an election three days earlier that Mr Johnson's date, also subject to the EU approving an extension.

In response to the news on Monday, Lib Dems shadow Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said his party "welcomes the news."

He added: "A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for our NHS, jobs, and the environment."

"It is welcome news that a three-month extension has been granted," according to the Liberal Democrat's shadow Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake.

He went on to say Mr Johnson's "do or die" deadline promise had "failed", adding: "We are still in the EU. The fight is far from over."

"We passionately believe that there is no deal that is as good as the one we have now: in the EU."

Boris Johnson purchased his poppy outside Downing Street
Boris Johnson purchased his poppy outside Downing Street. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, Brexit Party Chairman Richard Tice told Sky News that he hoped the extension would "give confidence to the House of Commons to agree to have a general election."

Mr Johnson has not yet responded publicly to news of the extension; however, was part of a photocall on Monday morning to purchase his Royal British Legion poppy from sellers at Downing Street.

But over in Europe, the response was somewhat welcoming of the extension, but critical of Mr Johnson's earlier pledge.

"Relieved that finally no one died in a ditch," the EU's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt tweeted.

He added: "Whether the UK's democratic choice is revoke or an orderly withdraw, confirmed or not in a second referendum, the uncertainty of Brexit has gone on for far too long.

"This extra time must deliver a way forward."