Tusk Tells European Leaders to Agree Brexit Extension to Stop No Deal

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 18: European Council President Donald Tusk speaks to the media
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President of the European Council Donald Tusk had told European leaders to grant the UK an extension to Article 50 to stop a no-deal Brexit.

The chief of the council of EU member state leaders said: “Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension.”

The Benn Act forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request an extension to January 31st, 2020. However, The Telegraph reports that Brussels sources are considering several options, including a shorter extension to November 30th. Also being discussed are variations on a “flextension” where the delay would end once the British Parliament ratifies the WAB.

The EU has said it will not grant extensions without good reason, such as for a second referendum or an election. One source said it is possible to issue one on the grounds of allowing a “national consensus” on the deal to emerge in parliament.

The diplomat said: “Of course that is always preferable to the risk of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.”

“I don’t think my prime minister is willing to take the political risk of running into a no-deal Brexit situation,” they added.

On Wednesday morning, Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar spoke to Mr Tusk and confirmed that he would back an extension, according to a statement from the government of the Republic of Ireland. European Union ambassadors will be meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, and if all countries agree, it could be announced early next week.

MPs voted on Tuesday to progress Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement bill to a second reading. But lawmakers blocked the prime minister’s intensive three-day schedule to ratify it, scuppering plans to take the UK out of the EU by October 31st.

The Times reports that the prime minister is expected to lobby French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron to resist the full extension and offer a shorter delay to allow enough time to pass the bill through both houses of Parliament.

Mr Macron is the most resistant to “new deadlines”, saying last week: “I think the October 31 date should be respected. We need to end these negotiations and get on negotiating the future relationship.”

Diplomatic sources told The Telegraph on Monday night that Mr Macron will only support a very short extension “of a few days”.

The EU27 must agree unanimously for a Brexit delay, meaning that if one country rejects the request, the UK will leave the EU as scheduled on Halloween.

Brexiteer Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has been lobbying Poland to reject pressure from the “mafia cartel” EU and veto the extension. The Polish-born MP said colleagues were also talking to their Hungarian and Czech counterparts to ensure that Brexit is delivered as promised.


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