11 Apr

ABCC Brexit Update 11 April - EU Agrees to Delay Brexit until 31 October

  • Still unable to pass her Brexit deal through the House of Commons despite ongoing discussions with the opposition Labour Party, PM May travelled to Brussels on 10 April to request a further extension of the UK's departure from the EU.
     
  • Before leaving the room, PM May updated her EU counterparts on her efforts to pass her Brexit Deal domestically and pressed her case to extend the UK's exit date to 30 June - the day before the new European Parliament will sit.
     
  • In a subsequent five hour long meeting, EU leaders ultimately agreed to a "flexible extension" until 31 October.
     
  • EU leaders were divided on how long to extend Article 50 (the EU's secession clause).  Despite calls for a longer delay - of up to a year - by certain Member States, France's Emmanuel Macron pushed for a short extension.  Macron argued that if the UK were allowed a long extension, the EU runs the risk of the UK frustrating EU decision-making from within the bloc.  A compromise of 31 October was reached, with the UK able to leave earlier should it be able to pass the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament.
     
  • The EU will review the UK's situation on 21 June.
     
  • According to the BBC, EU leaders agreed the following:
    •  An extension would be "only as long as necessary" and "no longer than 31 October" to allow for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.
    •  The UK "must hold the elections to the European Parliament" at the end of May and if it fails to do so, the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 1 June.
    •  The European Council (leaders of the EU Member States) reiterated there will be no re-opening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations.
    • The full conclusions of EU leaders can be found here.
       
  • Speaking after the Summit, PM May 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."
     
  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said, "Let me finish with a message to our British friends:  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.".   Tusk also added that the UK could rethink its strategy or "cancel Brexit altogether" should it wish.
     
  • The delay until October means the UK is likely to take part in the European Parliament elections in May - something which has further infuriated Conservative Brexiteers.
     
  • May is expected to update the House of Commons on Thursday 11 April and talks between the Government and the Labour Party will continue.
Posted in General by Helen Walford
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