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EU 'prepared to offer three-month extension to Brexit'
27 October 2019, 18:59
The EU is prepared to grant a three-month extension to Brexit with an option to leave earlier if a deal is ratified, according to leaked documents.
The delay would mean the Uk may not leave the bloc until 31 January, instead of the current date of Thursday, according to the draft papers seen by The Guardian.
The news indicates that Boris Johnson's hopes that Brexit day will come by the end of this week could be left in tatters.
If a deal is ratified, then Britain would be allowed to leave on the first day of the month.
The French government had raised concerns about the extension, and previously suggested a final date of 15 November.
But this idea was not included in the details of the paper, meaning that Commission President Donald Tusk may have succeeded in bringing them in line with the rest of the member states.
The papers read: "The period provided for in article 50 (3) TEU as extended by the European council decision (EU) 2019/584 is hereby further extended until 31 January 2020.
“In the event that the parties to that agreement complete their respective ratification procedures and notify the depositary of the completion of these procedures in November 2019, in December 2019 or in January 2020, the withdrawal agreement will enter into into force respectively on [the first of the month of the relevant month]”.
This marks the first time dates have been put into an official document by the EU, but there could be further changes to the details until the document is signed off tomorrow.
Mr Johnson faces a crunch vote tomorrow to see if MPs will grant his request for a general election on 12 December.
The Liberal Democrats and the SNP may yet join together and grant his wish by voting for the motion in tomorrow's Parliamentary session.
Ian Blackford, the SNP's Westminster leader, confirmed he had co-signed a letter with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson to Mr Tusk in which they sought an extension until January 31 at the earliest so that the "risk of a devastating no-deal Brexit" could be removed.
He added: "If that meaningful extension is secured we will then work together to bring forward an election this year - but on Parliament's terms, not on the Prime Minister's."