Following ongoing battles to enact any kind of deal for Brexit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been overruled by the European Union to now reach arrangements for the UK to leave the EU by October 31st. This is just over an additional five months where British citizens will have continue waiting in the balance to see what happens next.
In an attempt to thwart the very real prospect of a ‘no deal’ situation, May has continued to try and get backing for her take on a Brexit deal for the past few months. She, too, has attempted to encourage the EU to accept her shorter extension of up to June 30th to find a break in the deadlock. It was also floated in the press that there may have been an extension of up to a year on the table. It now appears that a middle ground has been found.
Mrs May took to Twitter to make her immediate thoughts known. “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.”
According to BBC News, there is now also a mandate in place for the UK to hold European elections this May. Such a requirement will not go down well with many government ‘Brexiteers’, who will have been keen to have seen the UK leave the Union by the time such processes were to take place. However, the choice is clear – if European elections are not honored by the UK, a ‘no deal’ situation will become the default as of June 1st.
The so-called ‘flextension’ has been granted ‘only as long as necessary’ and will run up to October 31st at the latest, so that a deal to leave can be ratified through necessary channels. However, this too comes with a caveat for the UK – in that the European Council will no longer honor any further re-opening of negotiations over a deal. Therefore, everything rests firmly in the hands of May and UK ministers.
“The course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands,” Donald Tusk publicly advised. “They can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension can be terminated.”
Tusk, however, did also note that the UK could now reconsider its strategy for leaving, or alternatively, ‘cancel Brexit altogether’. With the embattled PM continuing to push for a streamlined exit, this option still seems fairly slim – regardless of the extension in place.
Brexit extension granted: What happens now?
[video: Press Association STUDIO]