British Prime Minister, Theresa May and EU leaders earlier today agreed to a Brexit extension until Oct. 31 at the latest, narrowly averting a no-deal Brexit the following day.
Naija News understands that Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said that until that deadline what happens will be in the hands of the UK.
However, within minutes of finalising their decision at a special EU summit in Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk hinted that there could be further reprieves down the road.
“Our intention is to finalise the whole process in October,” Tusk said.
“But I am too old to exclude another scenario. Everything is possible.”
The flexible extension – which would allow Britain to leave the EU whenever its withdrawal deal is approved – grants Britain a further six months “to find the best possible solution,” Tusk wrote on Twitter.
May needs the extra time to broker parliamentary approval on the withdrawal deal negotiated with Brussels, which lawmakers in the House of Commons have rejected three times.
— Alasdair Gordon (@AlasdairGordon1) April 11, 2019
The embattled British premier had asked for a delay until June 30, but most EU leaders favoured a longer term, according to EU sources.
The deadline has already been postponed once, from March 29.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron dug in his heels during the eight-hour summit, insisting on a shorter extension so Brexit does not threaten the functioning of the EU.
EU leaders set several conditions, notably requiring Britain to participate in European Parliament elections if it is still a member when they begin on May 23.
Otherwise “the withdrawal will take place on June 1, 2019,” the 27 leaders wrote in a joint statement.
However, May expressed hope that Britain would be out by then.
“If we are able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, we will not have to take part in European elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday June 1,” she said in Brussels.
I run two companies and employ 29 staff. These delays and this uncertainty is costing the UK a fortune that we don’t have and is a nightmare for us small business owners. I voted to leave . Is there any politician out there who can deliver a proper Brexit ?
— Ray Palmer (@RayPalmer8) April 11, 2019
EU leaders insisted in their statement that during the extension, the withdrawal deal cannot be reopened.
Britain is expected to act in a “constructive and responsible” manner until its departure, refraining from measures that could “jeopardize” EU objectives.
They agreed to “take stock” of the situation at their regular June summit, however, this date “is not a cliff-edge,” Tusk insisted.
Macron justified the Oct. 31 deadline by explaining that Britain would have left before the new European Commission takes up its work the following day, thus preventing London from hampering EU priorities.