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

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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