Following reports that the Lib Dems and SNP are preparing to support Boris Johnson’s bid to hold new elections in December, leaders of the EU27 have apparently overcome their doubts about approving another extension of Article 50 (France’s Emmanuel Macron was reportedly dragging his feet, just like he did the last time around).
In a Monday morning tweet, EU Council President Donald Tusk announced that the leaders of the EU would accept Johnson’s request (made under legal duress) for another Brexit “flextension” until Jan. 31, 2020. The decision, Tusk said, will be “formalized” by a written procedure, which means that EU leaders will not need to hold a summit in Brussels to sign off.
The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK's request for a #Brexit flextension until 31 January 2020. The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 28, 2019
According to the FT, the ministers agreed to the extension at a brief, 20-minute meeting Monday morning. All that’s left now is for the capitals of the EU to officially sign off on the legal procedures, which is expected to take a few days.
The pound was little-changed on the news of the Brexit extension, as the news was widely expected by the markets.
Now, attention turns to London, where LibDem Party leader Jo Swinson is waiting for Johnson’s response to a one-page draft bill that would call for the general election vote on Dec. 9. Last week, it was reported that Johnson would ask Parliament to vote for fresh elections on Dec. 12.
Johnson had once sworn that the UK would leave the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die,” and that he wouldn’t ask for an extension under any circumstances. However, in an act of rebellion that led to nearly two dozen Tories being expelled from the party, a faction of Tory lawmakers opposed to a “no deal” Brexit joined with the opposition to pass the Benn Act, which forced Johnson to request an extension after the Commons refused to go along with his plan to fast-track the passage of the new withdrawal agreement that he negotiated with the leaders of the EU27.
The UK now has 24 hours to offer its consent. Like last time, the “flextension” will delay Brexit Day until Jan. 31, or until the UK Parliament and the European Parliament ratify the new deal, at which point the UK would leave.
Polls predict a tight race, though most still have the Tories winning a plurality as they campaign on allowing the party to “finish the job.”
One recent poll had the Tories surge to a 16-point lead over Labour.