Saturday

6th Mar 2021

Brexit vote prompts Tusk to seek further extension

  • Tusk says the latest extension demand won't require an EU summit (Photo: European Parliament)

European council president Donald Tusk said he will press for a Brexit extension after UK lawmakers demanded more time despite reaching a deal on leaving the European Union.

"I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension. For this, I will propose a written procedure," said Tusk in a tweet on Tuesday (23 October), meaning there will be no special EU summit.

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The announcement came amid a marathon session in Westminster earlier on Tuesday in which British MPs approved prime minister Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement Bill by 329 votes to 299.

The move augured the end of more than three years of debate following previous rejections of bills floated by Johnson's predecessor Theresa May.

But the same MPs then scuppered Johnson's immediate plans to leave by the end of October after they demanded more time to mull over the agreement.

The move collided with Johnson's political gamble to leave the European Union on 31 October no matter what, a date that he has repeatedly promised would be met.

He has since been forced by MPs to pause the legislation, jeopardising his deadline.

"I will speak to EU member states about their intentions. Until they have reached a decision - until we reach a decision, I will say - we will pause this legislation," said Johnson.

The length of the planned extension is not yet clear, although a 31 January date may be a reference point. Johnson had over the weekend formally proposed it as a departure date to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

But a lengthy extension may also prompt Johnson to call for a general election.

Whatever the outcome, the issue of Brexit and the UK's internal back and forth has left some EU leaders exasperated.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the outgoing European Commission president, had during a debate with MEPs in Strasbourg, described it as a waste of time and a waste of energy.

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, also spoke out.

"You're all thinking: another extension. I am thinking: another three weeks listening to Farage," he said in a quip to vocal EU-basher and Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, who is a member of the European Parliament.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who has said "Brexit is a lose-lose", has since been appointed to lead a new task force to rebuild the EU-UK future relationship.

"Brexit is not the end of the story. The UK remains our friend, ally, partner and we have to rebuild," he also told MEPs in Strasbourg.

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The EU parliament is awaiting the decision of British MPs on the Brexit deal before holding a vote by MEPs, as British PM Boris Johnson puts the Brexit deal to another vote on Tuesday.

Johnson pushes for December election, puts aside Brexit bill

The British prime minister will try another legislative path to get an early election - and he might get enough support if he ditches the Brexit bill for now. Meanwhile, the EU has granted an extension until January 2020.

Safety fears suspend work for EU staff at Northern Irish ports

The issue will be discussed on Wednesday at a video conference between EU Commission vice president Maroš Šefcovic, British cabinet minister Michael Gove, Northern Ireland's first minister Arlene Foster, and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill.

Commission blames Irish border cock-up on trade chief

The EU Commission caused uproar in Ireland and the UK when - in a rush to agree on a new regulation to control vaccine exports from the EU - the bloc's executive triggered a clause in the Brexit divorce deal.

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

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