EU agrees to delay Britain’s exit to 31 October

Imploring to the UK, European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, said his message to British friends was to 'please not waste this time'.

The European Union (EU) has agreed to extend Brexit until October 31 in a ‘flexible extension’, a decision which will give Britain a breathing room of six months to sort out their decision on leaving the EU.

The decision was made after five hours of talks at an emergency EU summit at Brussels. With the extension, it means the United Kingdom (UK) must participate in the European elections which will be in May or leave on June 1 without a deal.

Imploring to the UK, European Council’s president Donald Tusk said his message to British friends was to ‘please do not waste this time’.

In a special European Council press conference on Wednesday, Mr Tusk announced: ‘Tonight, the European Council decided to grant the United Kingdom a flexible extension of the Article 50 period until the 31st of October. This means an additional six months for the UK.'

‘During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands. It can still rectify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated. It can also reconsider the whole Brexit strategy: that might lead to changes in the political declaration but not in the withdrawal agreement.’

‘Until the end of this period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether,’ said Mr Tusk.

UK will continue its sincere cooperation as a full member state with all its rights and as a close friend and trusted ally in the future, he said.

‘This extension is as flexible as I expected and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it is still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time,’ he stressed.

Extension date longer than Theresa May's request

UK prime minister Theresa May had earlier told the EU leaders she wanted to move Brexit's date which is due this Friday to June 30, with an additional option to move the date earlier if the British Parliament consent to her withdrawal agreement.

Prior to the announcement, Mrs May had presented a one-hour presentation slide to state her reasons to why Article 50 should be extended till June 30.

According to Bloomberg, the EU leaders were struggling to decide on whether to push back Brexit by as much as a year, or grant Mrs May's plea for a short extension. The October date was decided as a compromise.

Mrs May will now head back to London to give a statement in the House of Commons in the early afternoon.

The new date would mean that the UK can exit the EU before the next European Commission president takes office. The extension is also longer than what Mrs May had in mind, and she may face backlash with the British parliament when she returns.

The oddity to the situation would be that the UK will have to participate in the European election, commented European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. 'But rules are rules and we must respect European law and then we will see what happens.'

The Pound was unchanged against the dollar greenback as investors had been expecting an extension.

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