Brexit Deadline Pushed to October 31 as EU Grants UK ‘Flexible’ Six-Month Extension
The UK will have to participate in the 2019 EU elections on May 23-26, or crash out of the EU on June 1 if it fails to do so.
October 31, 2019, is the newly set deadline for Brexit after the European Union leaders granted the UK another extension on leaving, this time for a period of six months.
The new Brexit extension was struck by the EU leaders at the special European Council Summit in Brussels taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, hours before the UK had been due to leave the EU as per its earlier extension, which was until April 12.
Before the special summit, British Prime Minister Theresa May had asked for a new Brexit delay until June 30, 2019, while European Council President Donald Tusk had proposed a “flexible” extension of up to 1 year.
The European Council already granted Britain one Brexit extension based on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s expectation that she could get the British Parliament to adopt her embattled Brexit deal with the EU by April 12.
The withdrawal agreement, however, has been rejected three times by the British House of Commons, and without the calling of an emergency EU leaders’ summit, the UK was about to crash out of the Union without a deal.
As the new Brexit deadline of October 31, 2019, was made known, May was quick to clarify that the UK would still aim to leave the EU earlier, as soon as possible, BBC News reported.
The new Brexit extension has been granted against the backdrop of continuing deadlock in the British Parliament over how to proceed with the exit process.
European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the new Brexit extension at a late-night news conference at 2:15 am local time, after Wednesday’s meeting of the EU leaders, and then a subsequent meeting with Theresa May.
“The course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands. They can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension can be terminated,” Tusk said, referring to the “flexibility” of the new Brexit delay.
He pointed out that the UK still had the option to choose to “cancel Brexit altogether”, a step that can be taken unilaterally as confirmed by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, back in December.
Not unlike what Juncker and himself had done at numerous occasions before, Tusk once again issued a plea to the UK to act upon the Brexit process in a timely manner.
“Let me finish with a message to our British friends: This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it’s still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time,” the European Council President urged.
As per the Conclusions of the special European Council summit on Brexit, the existing withdrawal agreement negotiated by May, may not be reopened and amended further.
With respect to the upcoming European Parliament Elections on May 23-26, 2019, the UK will now be obliged to hold them and elect its new MEPs – unless it adopts the Brexit deal before that.
If it fails to hold the 2019 EU elections, the UK will have to leave the European Union on June 1, 2019.
“There will probably be a European election in the UK – that might seem a bit odd, but rules are rules and we must respect European law and then we will see what happens,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
British Prime Minister May declared that the UK “will continue to hold full membership rights and obligations” in the EU during the period of Brexit deadline extension but vowed to press further for the Parliament’s adoption of the existing exit deal.
“I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension,” she said.
“The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal,” May added.
“I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward. Nothing is more pressing or more vital,” the UK leader elaborated.
After the new Brexit extension was announced, reports emerged that May might be challenged for the leadership of the UK Conservative Party, and a new Prime Minister might even be in place by June.
(Banner image: Donald Tusk on Twitter)