The Latest: EU lawmaker backs 3-month Brexit extension
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit official says that a three-month flexible extension of the deadline beyond Oct. 31 is the only option.
Guy Verhofstadt, a member of European Parliament, said after a meeting of EU expert legislators that MEPs would need the necessary time to check the details of the EU-U.K. withdrawal agreement that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached with EU leaders last week.
Verhofstadt tweeted: “A flex tension, not going beyond 31st Jan, is the only way forward.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting he doesn’t want to delay Britain’s exit from the European Union beyond Oct. 31, though he appears to accept that it is going to happen.
The EU is considering whether to postpone the U.K.’s departure after British lawmakers blocked Johnson’s attempt to fast-track his Brexit bill through Parliament. EU Council President Donald Tusk says he will recommend the 27 other EU leaders approve the request.
Johnson asked for the delay after Parliament ordered him to.
Johnson’s office said the prime minister spoke to Tusk on Wednesday and said “he continues to believe that there should be no extension and that it is in the interests of both (the EU) and the United Kingdom for us to leave on October 31.”
But an email from Johnson to Conservative Party supporters acknowledged the deadline is beyond reach. It was headed “Labour has just delayed Brexit again.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is making clear that Germany will approve a further delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union, but isn’t saying how long it should be.
Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that “an extension will not fail because of Germany.”
Seibert wouldn’t elaborate, citing planned consultations between European Council President Donald Tusk and leaders of the 27 remaining EU members.
Tusk said Tuesday night that he would recommend that the EU grant Britain’s request for an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. If approved, it would be the third delay to Brexit, which was originally scheduled for late March.
European Parliament President David Sassoli says European leaders should accept a Brexit extension that the British government has requested.
Britain is now scheduled to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has asked for a three-month extension to get his Brexit divorce deal approved by the British Parliament.
In a statement Wednesday, Sassoli said an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline will “allow the United Kingdom to clarify its position and the European Parliament to exercise its role.”
European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will urge the other 27 EU nations to approve Britain’s Brexit delay.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is weighing whether to push for an early election or try again to pass his stalled European Union divorce deal, after Parliament blocked a fast-track plan to approve his Brexit bill before the U.K.’s scheduled departure from the bloc on Oct. 31.
Late Tuesday, lawmakers backed the substance of Johnson’s divorce deal in principle, but rejected the government’s plan to fast-track the legislation through Parliament in a matter of days, saying it didn’t provide enough time for scrutiny.
The government is now waiting for the EU’s response to its request for a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline.
European Council President Donald Tusk said in a tweet that because of the vote he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant Britain a delay in its departure to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit in just eight days.
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