News | Published March 22 2019

EU grants UK Article 50 Extension

The European Union has agreed to grant the UK a short extension of Article 50.

The announcement came last night following lengthy talks among EU heads of state.

The leaders agreed to grant the UK an extension up to 22nd May, but only on the condition that MPs pass Theresa May’s deal.

Should the House of Commons reject the deal for a third time next week, the extension will apply only up to 12th April, leaving MPs with only a short window to ask for a longer extension or prepare for a no deal exit.

Any long-term extension of Article 50 would require MPs to “indicate a way forward” and to participate in elections to the European Parliament this spring.

Speaking to reporters after the summit, president of the European Council Donald Tusk said: “What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed. The UK government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50.”

Tusk also stressed that an active decision to take part in the European Parliament elections would have to be made by 12th April.

There was much disagreement among leaders as to how long an extension the UK should be granted.

The 12th April date will be seen as a win for French President Emmanuel Macron, who wanted to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit occurring just days before French voters went to the polls.

The plans go against May’s preferred extension date of 30th June, giving her much less time to win over MPs to support her deal.

The Prime Minister had told MPs on Wednesday that as prime minister she would not allow an extension which would require participation in the European elections.

This was widely interpreted as an indication that she would rather resign than extend Article 50 past that date.

Last night, however, the prime minister toned down her language, stating only that she believed participating in the European elections would be “wrong”.

May also sought to address the widespread criticism she received after appearing to blame MPs for the current stalemate in a televised address on Wednesday night.

“Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do,” she said.

Authored by

Benjamin Goodwin
March 22 2019

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