PARIS: The new deadline – 31 October – averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as MPs are still deadlocked over a deal.
European Council President Donald Tusk said his “message to British friends” was “please do not waste this time”.
Theresa May, who had wanted a shorter delay, said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible. The UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal, BBC has reported.
The prime minister will later make a statement on the Brussels summit to the House of Commons, while talks with the Labour Party, aimed at reaching consensus on how to handle Brexit, are set to continue. Mrs May tweeted: “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.”
So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year and they have voted against leaving the EU without a deal.
The EU has ruled out any renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement. Before the summit, Mrs May had told leaders she wanted to move the UK’s exit date from this Friday to 30 June, with the option of leaving earlier if Parliament ratified her agreement.
Reaction in UK
For Labour, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mrs May was being “inflexible” during negotiations with his party, and that, if this continued, “a public vote of some description, whether it’s a general election or some sort of referendum, actually becomes necessary as a way out of this crisis”.
How decision made
The EU had been split over the length of delay to offer the UK and by law its other 27 member states had to reach a unanimous decision. Although other countries backed a longer delay, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a shorter extension. He called the 31 October deadline “a good solution”.
What was agreed
A Brexit extension “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” and if it fails to do this, the UK will leave on 1 June
The European Council reiterates there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations
The UK and the EU have agreed a “flexible extension” of Brexit until 31 October. European Council President Donald Tusk has urged the UK to “not waste this time” and said the extension could be terminated if a withdrawal deal is agreed.
The PM said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible. Talks between the government and Labour to try to find a way forward are continued.
Earlier, amid the political chaos surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted that her beleaguered Brexit deal will get a green signal only if it is supported by the opposition Labour Party.
May said that her deal negotiated with the EU was rejected thrice by the British Parliament and there was no chance of the agreement getting another approval in its current form.
“Given that Parliament has also made clear it will oppose a no-deal Brexit, the only way to secure a deal was through a compromise with Labour”, CNN quoted May as saying in a statement released on Sunday.”If we cannot secure a majority among Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party MPs we have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons,” she added.
The Labour Party, which has criticised the Brexit process several times, is in favour of the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU after the country leaves the European bloc. However, the party is in two minds whether to ask the electorate to ratify any deal in a second referendum.
Interestingly, in an apparent shift of stance, May did not rule out the possibility of a second referendum or a customs union, saying both Labour and Conservative parties are committed to preventing unrestricted immigration from the EU after Brexit.
May had earlier announced that she would step down if her deal was passed in the British Parliament. Despite the rejection, demands from parliamentarians regarding her resignation have intensified. (ANI)