Brexit: Boris Johnson threatens election as EU say extension is needed to avoid no-deal

23 October 2019, 19:28

Boris Johnson has threatened a General Election if an extension is granted
Boris Johnson has threatened a General Election if an extension is granted. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

EU leaders have agreed on the need for a Brexit extension to avoid a no-deal scenario, during informal talks, but the duration is still being discussed.

Members will get together again on Friday to discuss a delay - which was officially requested by the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson has insisted he doesn't want an extension and has claimed if the UK is given one he will push for a General Election.

Mr Johnson spoke to German chancellor Angela Merkel for around 10 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, Number 10 said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "(Mr Johnson) made the same point which he made to Donald Tusk, which is that his long-held view is that we shouldn't delay and that we should leave the EU on 31st October."

The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: "The @Europarl_EN's Brexit Steering Group met today & is of the opinion that a flextension, not going beyond the 31st Jan, is the only way forward.

"This is an important agreement & the European Parliament needs time to scrutinise in detail, especially concerning citizens rights."

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood feels any additional time would be better spent scrutinising the deal.

He said if the Government haven't resolved Brexit by the time an election happens the issue of the UK leaving the EU will "dominate on the doorstep" not "what's best for Britain."

Ireland deputy premier Simon Coveney has said a Brexit extension, if granted, is likely to be a flexible one that would allow the UK to leave the EU prior to the end of January.

Mr Coveney said the Irish government would be supportive of an extension but he cautioned that he was not speaking on behalf of the other EU states and said it was a case of "wait and see" if any of them raised "issues" with the move.

Addressing a gathering of business leaders in Belfast, he said: "From the Irish Government's perspective we are supportive of facilitating an extension.

"I think that extension will be a flexible one that will allow the United Kingdom to leave the EU, if they can get a deal done, well in advance of the end of that extension period, which looks like it might be the end of January."