Brexit extension – with a condition attached

Mar 25, 2019

The EU 27 last week agreed to postpone the UK’s departure from the EU until 22 May – almost two months after the planned departure date of 29 March.  The postponement comes with a condition however. The UK Prime Minister must get her MPs to approve the withdrawal bill in Parliament this week.  MPs will be asked to vote for a third time on the withdrawal bill.  If the vote fails, the UK will leave the EU on 12 April unless it chooses to hold European Parliament elections at the end of May.

The outcome comes after a EU Summit in Brussels last week where Theresa May went to ask the EU to give her until 30 June to get the withdrawal bill through parliament. She left Brussels on Friday without that and the question remains; what happens if the UK parliament rejects the withdrawal bill and don’t participate in the European elections?  It looks like a no-deal Brexit could be back on the table on April 12.  If a longer extension to Article 50 is needed, the UK will have to participate in the European elections; something Theresa May has said she doesn’t want to do.  

Speaking in Brussels after the UK Prime Minister accepted the deal, EU Council President Donald Tusk said  “The cliff edge will be delayed…The 12th of April is a key date in terms of the UK deciding whether to hold European Parliament elections. If it has not decided to do so by then, the option of a long extension will automatically become impossible.”

In a statement after accepting the EU’s proposals, the UK Prime Minister said: “What the decision today underlines is the importance of the House of Commons passing a Brexit deal next week so that we can bring an end to the uncertainty and leave in a smooth and orderly manner. Tomorrow morning, I will be returning to the UK and working hard to build support for getting the deal through”.

All eyes will be on Westminster this week.