EU Agrees to Delay Brexit Further

Third delay in process

Image Credits: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images.

PM Boris Johnson wrote a letter last week asking for a delay after British lawmakers forced his hand.

EU member states agree to grant Britain a three-month flexible delay, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted.

The European Union on Monday agreed to give the United Kingdom a Brexit extension until January 31, European Council President Donald Tusk wrote on Twitter.

Though the decision still has to be formally confirmed by letter, the former Polish prime minister tweeted that the 27 member states were in agreement. “The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK’s request for a #Brexit flextension until 31 January 2020. The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure.”

The so-called ‘flextension’ is shorthand for flexible extension.

Details have not been officially confirmed, but are thought to include the following:

  • The EU is not open to renegotiating the current withdrawal agreement in place, agreed by Boris Johnson and the bloc earlier this month.
  • If British lawmakers approve the deal sooner, the UK could leave the bloc before the end of January.
  • Formal approval of the extension is anticipated in the next 48 hours.
  • Member states are expected to demand Britain nominates an EU commissioner.

Tusk’s social media post came as EU diplomats met in Brussels. Upon leaving the discussions, which lasted for 30 minutes, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “it was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting and I am happy the decision has been taken.”

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This is the third delay since the UK invoked Article 50 in March 2017, beginning what should have been a two-year exit process.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had previously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for an extension, will now try to “get Brexit done” via a snap election on December 12. He hopes that a new parliament will endorse the withdrawal agreement he negotiated with the EU. British lawmakers are set to vote on whether to hold an election later Monday.

Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, was quick to blame British MPs for the predicament. The prime minister secured “a great new deal, he set out a timetable that would have allowed the UK to leave on October 31 with that deal — and Parliament blocked it,” he said.

Germany reacts positively, with a caveat

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert welcomed the extension, describing it as a “good solution” and that it was “very positive” that all member states had shown unity on the issue.

But he warned “the ball now lies with Great Britain. And it’s important to use the additional time productively.”

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