Brexit delayed until October 31

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on April 11, 2019 - Duration: 02:16s

Brexit delayed until October 31

European Union leaders agreed to grant British Prime Minister Theresa May a new Brexit deadline of October 31, unless she can find a majority backing for her exit deal before then.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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Brexit delayed until October 31

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "Tonight the European Council agreed to grant the United Kingdom a flexible extension." Britain will avoid crashing out of the EU on Friday (April 12), after EU leaders agreed to a new deadline of October 31st.

A flexible extension means Britain could leave sooner, if Prime Minister May finds a way to get her hated Brexit deal through parliament.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "During this time the course of action will be entirely in the UK's hands […] Please do not waste this time." May now has an extra six months to figure out what to do about Brexit.

She acknowledged on Thursday (April 11) the -quote- huge frustration over the extension, urging parliament to finally support her Brexit deal: (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, SAYING: "The UK should have left the EU by now, and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade parliament to approve a deal." After their eight-hour summit on Wednesday (April 10), EU leaders said they hoped the new, Halloween deadline would give Britain enough time to find a Brexit it can agree on.

French President Macron said he was hopeful May's continuing talks with her rivals in parliament will lead to a breakthrough: (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, EMMANUEL MACRON, SAYING: "What convinced us that we had to grant a new extension?

The fact that for the first time in two and half years, Theresa May explained to us that she had begun a discussion with the Labour party -- a first in decades in the British political system -- and that could allow her to build a majority." The extension raises the awkward possibility of Britain having to hold elections to the European parliament, where EU citizens vote on who to represent them in the bloc.

It's something May has long been adamantly against.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "I don't believe it's right to be in a situation of holding European parliamentary elections three years on from people having voted to leave the EU." The Prime Minister said if parliament can pass a deal before the first three weeks of May, Britain could avoid holding the elections.

If not, they could turn into a virtual second referendum, depending on whether Britons vote for pro or anti-EU parties.

May will head back to London on Thursday, where she's due to make a statement to parliament.

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