EU Agrees to Delay Brexit till Day before European Elections if UK Parliament Adopts Deal
The extension will be only until April 12 if the British Parliament refuses once again to adopt May’s Brexit deal with the EU.
The leaders of the EU 27 have agreed to grant the UK an extension on Brexit by delaying it until May 22, 2019 – the day right before the start of the 2019 European Parliament Elections (May 23-26, 2019) – even though British leader May asked for June 30.
The extension until May 22, however, is conditional on the British Parliament’s adoption of the already negotiated and amended Brexit deal.
Should the legislature in London reject May’s Brexit deal with the EU for the third time, the Union would then delay the UK’s departure only until April 12, 2019.
May and the leaders of the EU 27 met for an European Council Summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss precisely the Brexit extension, with just a week left before the originally set Brexit date of March 29, 2019.
The options for the May 22 and April 12 Brexit delays are laid out in a draft document on the conclusions of Thursday’s European Council Summit cited by the BBC.
“The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week,” the draft EUCO conclusions read.
“If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the UK to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council,” the conclusions add.
A day before the European Council Summit, on Wednesday, its President Donald Tusk, received a formal letter request from British Prime Minister Theresa May that the EU agree to put off Brexit until June 30, 2019.
May asked the Union for a Brexit extension after last week the British MPs rejected her withdrawal deal for the second time, and then House of Commons Speaker John Bercow unexpectedly intervened to prevent a third vote on “substantially the same” motion.
Then in a late night speech on Wednesday, the British leader accused the Parliament in London of failing to hold decisive votes when necessary.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to fight “to the last hour” to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and declared the EU would have an “open door” for closer cooperation with Britain despite its departure.
The wording of Thursday’s European Council Summit conclusions on the Brexit delay until the last day before the 2019 EU Elections (or until April 12, depending on the widely anticipated third vote in the British Parliament) is said to have been driven by France and Germany.
The European Commission, the EU executive, has been opposed to granting the UK a Brexit extension until June 30, as requested, precisely because of the European Parliament Elections.
It had argued that Britain should either leave before the EU parliament vote, or remain in the Union at least until the end of 2019 so that it can elect its own MEPs one more time.
Meanwhile, a petition to cancel Brexit has surpassed a million signatories at a rate unseen before for the British Parliament website.
(Banner image: European Council press service)