Trick or Treat? EU extend deadline until 31 October

11 April 2019

Brexit

CLA Public Affairs Adviser Eleanor Wood examines the extension the EU have granted the UK and what could happen in the meantime.

Ellie Wood

Everybody can take a breath, the UK is not leaving the EU with a no-deal on Friday. Last night the EU Council agreed to an extension for the UK up until 31 October. The outcome ended up sitting on the fence between the Prime Minister’s short request of 30 June and the year extension that was originally proposed by some within the EU.

Donald Tusk’s “please don’t waste this time” plea to the UK is an important one.  I don’t think anyone can take six more months of infighting and delay, which has the potential to get worse as positions become more entrenched and the temptation to play party politics increases even more.

Why have EU elections when we are leaving? As one of the main conditions for the extension, the UK has to hold European elections on 23 May or leave the EU by 1 June. European elections at a time when there is increasing frustration at MPs’ failure to find a way forward could provide some serious headaches for mainstream politicians, and is another reason why Theresa May is very keen to get her withdrawal agreement or some other exit deal passed before then.

It’s very unclear what kind of deal could pass the House of Commons while there is still a Brexit deadlock. The Labour Party are advocating for a customs union model or a referendum on the final deal in their negotiations with number 10. This leaves Mrs May stuck between accepting a Labour compromise or finally finding some consensus within a very divided Conservative party.

The next six months will be a telling time and it is increasingly likely that there is going to be a new Prime Minister this year. The Conservative party leadership contest is set to heat up over the coming weeks, with those interested in the job starting to pitch themselves to the public. Early entrants look likely to be Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Home Secretary Sajid Javid. 

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