European Union leaders have granted the UK a six month extension to Brexit, after five hours of talks in Brussels.
The EU leaders have agreed the process can be delayed until October 31. Despite French President’s Emmanuel Macron’s reluctance to give the UK a long Brexit extension.
While everyone is focusing on that deadline, it’s really the June date that’s the more significant. Theresa May, who had wanted a shorter delay, said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible. The UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on June 1 without a deal.
Just three weeks ago, May told lawmakers in the House of Commons that she could not, as Prime Minister, delay Britain’s departure from the European Union beyond June 30. After that, Britain would be obliged to send representatives to the European Parliament, where a new session begins on July 1.
The new deadline averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as Members of Parliament are still deadlocked over a deal.
A minister had implied that the delay could mean a Conservative Party leadership contest after Easter, with potentially a new prime minister by June.
European Council President, Donald Tusk said his message to British friends was “please do not waste this time”.
Mr Tusk emerged from the talks and a subsequent meeting with Mrs May, to address reporters at a news conference. He said: “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. 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.”