French President Emmanuel Macron/Bloomberg
The 31 October deadline is a compromise and the UK can leave sooner if Parliament ratifies the divorce deal.
Thursday 11, April 2019
(Bloomberg) --Brexit is on course to be delayed until the end of October under a plan to avoid a chaotic no-deal split, risking six more months of political uncertainty over Britain’s ties to the European Union (EU).
The blueprint hashed out during six hours of talks in Brussels allows the UK to stay in the bloc until 31 October, with a review of progress to be held in June. British Prime Minister Theresa May accepted the offer and must now sell it to sceptical members of Parliament in London.
May will need to return to London and explain the delay she had previously said would be unacceptable to a Parliament and a Conservative Party that are losing patience with her leadership. While the extension avoids the risk of a disorderly no-deal Brexit this week, it sets up a political crisis later on this year and could trigger an immediate backlash that risks destabilising the government.
"The choices we now face are stark, and the timetable is clear, I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, May said.
May asked for a short delay until the end of June, but Tusk proposed a delay of as long as a year. At the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron took a hard line and leading role in the discussions pushing for a shorter extension and tougher conditions to make sure the UK cannot sabotage EU business on its way out.
Britain was due to leave the bloc of 28 member countries on 29 March but May has failed three times to get the divorce deal she negotiated with the EU approved in Parliament. May has already been forced to ask the EU for one delay and reluctantly returned to Brussels on to ask for a second short extension to the negotiating period.
The Prime Minister’s request has been rebuffed, making it now highly likely that the UK will be required to take part in European Parliament elections next month, something the premier and many of her own Conservative Party colleagues have said would be unacceptable three years after Britain voted to leave the EU.