European leaders agree Brexit ‘flextension’, missing 31 October deadline

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Britain will remain in the European Union until next year unless Parliament ratifies Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal sooner, the remaining member states have agreed.

Following a meeting of ambassadors, European Council president Donald Tusk said the EU27 would accept the UK’s request for a Brexit “flextension” until 31 January.

The prime minister has said in the past that he would prefer to be “dead in a ditch” than miss the 31 October deadline.

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Tusk tweeted: “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.”

The announcement will pile pressure on opposition parties to decide whether to back a pre-Christmas general election, with MPs voting later on Monday on a government bid to hold a poll on 12 December.

Labour has said it will only back the move if Johnson makes “absolutely clear” that no-deal is off the table and a January extension is granted.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats and SNP have put forward a bill that would grant an election on 9 December – three days earlier than the PM’s suggested polling date – as long as the European Union grants an extension until 31 January.

The prime minister’s election bid on Monday, to be made under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), would require a two-thirds Commons majority – 434 MPs – to agree to an election on 12 December.

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