Brussels [Belgium]: European Union leaders agreed to delay the deadline for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European bloc until October 31, with a review in June.
This means that the UK will not leave the EU on April 12 without a deal.
Confirming the development, EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted late on Thursday, “EU27/UK have agreed a flexible extension until 31 October. This means additional six months for the UK to find the best possible solution.”
The consensus by the EU leaders came after a marathon emergency summit, which saw the meeting go past midnight in Brussels.
During the summit, the leaders exchanged views on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal and held lengthy discussions on the extension to allow more time for the UK to leave the EU with an agreement, CNN reported.
Earlier, May had shot off a letter to the EU, asking to delay the Brexit process until June 30, a far shorter extension than what the EU leaders have decided.
The delay makes it all but certain that the UK will have to hold European Parliament elections next month unless May makes a renewed push to pass her beleaguered Brexit deal again in the British Parliament.
Calling the October 31 deadline “sensible”, Maltan Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the move will allow the UK to “finally choose its way”.
“A #Brexit extension until 31 October is sensible since it gives time to the UK to finally choose its way. The review in June will allow #EUCO to take stock of the situation,” he tweeted.
According to officials, French President Emmanuel Macron was against a long Brexit extension granted to the UK, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders backed the proposal.
An EU diplomat told CNN that May was “decent and clear” in her approach while briefing the EU leaders on her Brexit deal and the extension proposal.
“May had a clear story and narrative. She set out her position quite astutely,” the diplomat said.
On Tuesday, May made a whirlwind trip to Europe, where she met Merkel and Macron in Berlin and Paris respectively, in a bid to muster support for securing the extension for the country’s withdrawal from the EU.
While May has reiterated her resolve to honour the 2016 referendum, calls for a second referendum on the exit are at an all-time high in the UK in the wake of the Brexit deadlock.
The British Prime Minister’s talks with the Opposition seemed to have made no headway, as ambiguity regarding the terms on which the UK will leave the EU, continue to exist.
The British Parliament had earlier rejected a “no-deal Brexit” scenario, besides rejecting May’s Brexit deal thrice. Parliamentarians have also rejected four alternative proposals for the UK’s exit from the EU.