EU leaders and the UK government agreed on Thursday (April 11) a further delay to Brexit until 31 October 2019, averting, for now at least, the risk of an abrupt British departure from the bloc which investors fear would hurt the economy.
October 31 coincides with the end of the term of the current European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker. The next commission will be elected by the Parliament after it is seated in July.
The UK was originally due to leave on 29 March while the first extension shifted that date to 12 April. Now the UK now has just over six months to decide what it wants to do.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said that until the new deadline what happens will be entirely in the hands of the UK. The country can ratify the withdrawal agreement, and leave. It can change strategy, or it can decide to revoke article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether.
"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" he added.
But the offer comes with some conditions. The UK will have to hold the elections to the European Parliament in May, or risk leaving the EU on June 1 without a deal. The EU leaders also agreed to review the UK's status at the end of June to prevent British disruption to the bloc.
So far, U.K. lawmakers have rejected the Brexit deal British Prime Minister Theresa May struck with the EU last year in three parliamentary votes on the agreement.
According to the New York Times “that is a legally binding treaty that would resolve technical issues, like the government’s outstanding financial commitments to the bloc, and keep Britain inside its economic structures until at least December 2020. After that point, Mrs. May wants to detach Britain from Europe’s customs union and single market, and to take control of immigration from the Continent.” The MPs have also voted against leaving the EU without a deal.
In a press conference after the new extension was granted, May said “the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.”
On Monday (April 15) she said her government will continue to plan for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, her spokesman said. Mrs May's spokesman also told reporters that the prime minister was not thinking about calling an early general election as a way to break the Brexit impasse in parliament.
Brexit date was extended again but that hasn’t erased uncertainty and does not rule out the possibility of UK from asking for another extension sometime this autumn.