By Jacob Jaffa |
The EU 27 and the UK have agreed to extend Brexit yet further, with a new ‘flextension’ agreement setting the deadline on 31st October.
Sources reported that a deal was reached between EU leaders late on Wednesday night (10th April) and subsequently approved by the UK in the early hours of the next morning.
Theresa May had approached the summit of EU leaders seeking a short extension of the Article 50 process, ideally to 30th June. However, the EU refused this plan as expected by commentators, instead favouring a long extension.
… Paris has refused to rule out trying to force a no deal Brexit…
Under the new agreement the UK is to leave the EU on 31st October 2019, almost three and a half years after voting to leave in June 2016. Unlike in previous cases of extension the EU has granted the UK a ‘flexstention’, or flexible extension.
This means that if the UK Parliament can approve a withdrawal agreement early in the year, the UK could leave the European bloc well ahead of the new deadline.
Much was made of the prospect of French President Emmanuel Macron stymieing the process by refusing to approve the new extension plan. Paris has refused to rule out trying to force a no deal Brexit and reports are that Mr Macron’s actions sparked irritation amongst EU leaders as they felt he was hijacking the summit to promote French, rather than European, interests.
… Cross-party talks on the withdrawal agreement remain seemingly at a standstill…
The extension also includes a review in June which allows the UK to choose to either leave by 1st July, the final day of the current European Parliament’s term, or to participate in European elections and maintain the Halloween deadline.
This comes as cross-party talks on the withdrawal agreement remain seemingly at a standstill, with the key sticking point reported to be the proposal of a new customs union as part of the deal in exchange for opposition support.
Downing Street and Conservative Party HQ declined to comment.