In an attempt to ease British citizens last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May recorded a video where she said that the Government and the Labour Party both agreed on “ending free movement, ensuring to leave with a good deal, protecting jobs, protecting security,” while adding that finding a deal with the support of Parliament “will mean compromise on both sides”. So far, however, no agreement has been reached and therefore the deadline of 12 April must be extended.
As it was already clear in the beginning of this week that 12 April was too soon for an agreement, May rushed to Berlin and Paris to meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to seek guarantees and to brief them on the progress of talks between the Government and Labour. Both France and Germany already indicated earlier this week to be in favour of granting the UK an extension, but France nuanced that the extension would not be granted automatically. During the few days preceding the summit, various rumours circulated on how long the extension would be, with President of the European Council Donald Tusk announcing to be in favour of a long extension of maximum a year.
However, the EU27 leaders decided otherwise at a special EU summit on 10 April: 31 October 2019 is the new Brexit date. As expected, the EU offered the UK a ‘flextension’ which means that the UK can also leave earlier if the government can reach a deal before the new deadline. The UK must also hold elections to the European Parliament and the European Council reiterated there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations. Tusk said that the course of action is now in the hands of the UK and that they can still agree on the existing Withdrawal Agreement or even revoke Article 50, but he concluded “our British friends … please do not waste this time”. May had asked for a short extension and reiterated after the summit her intention to leave before the European elections.
It almost seems certain that the UK will have to participate in the European elections. David Lidington, Minister for the Cabinet Office, already started the preparations and the Day of Poll Order sets the date for the elections on May 23. Nonetheless, if the UK chooses not to participate in the EU elections but has not been able to reach a Brexit agreement by then, it would result in a no deal Brexit on 1 June.
In the meantime, it is a matter of waiting until Conservatives and Labour can find a compromise, but when and what will come about of it, is still uncertain.
If you are experiencing some Brexit fatigue, an alternative solution has been presented by a British company that offers the chance to be induced into coma until Brexit is over. Before you do, however, do not forget to choose your Halloween costume!