Brexit: European Union leaders have agreed to delay Brexit to Halloween

EUROPEAN Union leaders have offered to delay Brexit until Halloween.

Thursday, 11th April 2019, 8:33 am
Updated Thursday, 11th April 2019, 8:42 am
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Picture: (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

The UK was originally due to leave the EU on Friday, March 29, two years after triggering the article 50 process. 

However after Prime Minister Theresa May was unable to pass her Brexit dealt through Parliament it was delayed until April 12. 

Now the UK is set for a second extension to the Brexit process which will definitively stopped the clock on a no-deal withdrawal on Friday with less than 48 hours to go.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Picture: (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

In an early-hours press conference, European Council president Donald Tusk did not rule out further extensions beyond October.

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And he sent a message to the UK: ‘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.’

Addressing the press shortly before 2am, Mrs May said that she still wanted the UK to leave the EU ‘as soon as possible’. 

Acknowledging ‘huge frustration’ among voters that the UK has not yet left the EU, she said: ‘The choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.

‘So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.’ 

Talks between the Government and Labour to find a compromise way forward will continue at official level today. 

‘I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament,’ said Mrs May.

The six-month extension was a compromise solution thrashed out in five hours of talks in Mrs May's absence, after French President Emmanuel Macron held out against a longer extension lasting into 2020.

Under the terms of the agreement, the UK can leave at any time if the Withdrawal Agreement reached last November is ratified by Parliament.

A Halloween Brexit would mean the second phase - dealing with the future UK/EU trade and security relationship - would not get under way until late in the autumn.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said: ‘People across the UK will be relieved at this sensible extension.

‘Parliament must agree tomorrow and MPs must move swiftly to break the Brexit deadlock with a confirmatory ballot on the PM's deal.’ 

Sarah Wollaston, of The Independent Group, said an October 31 extension would provide just enough time to authorise and prepare for a referendum, though Parliament would have to move ‘quickly and decisively’ to do it.