EUROPEAN leaders have given the green light to a three-month Brexit delay this morning with the option of Britain leaving by December 1.
After a 20-minute meeting, EU Council chief Donald Tusk said: “The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK’s request for a Brexit flextension until January, 31 2020. The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure.”
According to the proposals, Boris Johnson could be given three potential exit dates – December 1, New Year’s Day and February 1 – as long as his Brexit agreement is passed by the Commons. Despite French opposition, the plan was circulated around EU capitals over the weekend in the hope of making progress. “The period provided for in article 50 (3) TEU as extended by the European council decision (EU) 2019/584 is hereby further extended until 31 January 2020,” the agreement says.
“In the event that the parties to that agreement complete their respective ratification procedures and notify the depositary of the completion of these procedures in November 2019, in December 2019 or in January 2020, the withdrawal agreement will enter into force respectively on December 1, January 1, Feburary 1″.
An EU source said: “The next step is to seek the formal UK agreement to the decision, as foreseen in Article 50.
“The formal flextension decision is made upon the positive conclusion of the written procedure.
“We hope this to be concluded by Tuesday or Wednesday.”
France’s Emmanuel Macron has been handed a number of sweeteners after refusing to agree to the plan on Friday after emerging as the only leader opposed to the “flextension” plan.
European Council President Donald Tusk spent the weekend canvassing leaders in a bid to build consensus around a new legal text.
EU ambassadors have given their consent to a series of draft legal texts drawn up ahead of their morning meeting.
EU leaders are now expected to sign off the agreement remotely by email via “written procedure”.
Macron take a softer position after several plans emerged for triggering a general election in December.
Developments in the UK are said to have helped convince Paris to come onboard with the latest set of proposals.
The French leader has demanded justification for any further Brexit delay but believes a snap ballot would be a good enough reason to back one.
Brussels will also publish a side declaration alongside the extension decision setting out a number of expectations for Britain’s behaviour during the delay.
To win over Paris, Mr Johnson will be told to nominate and send a UK commissioner after October 31.
“The European Council notes that, during this further extension, the United Kingdom will remain a member state until the new withdrawal date, with full rights and obligations in accordance with Article 50, including the obligation to suggest a candidate for appointment as a member of the Commission,” the declaration reads.
The declaration also states that no major changes can be made to the Prime Minister’s newly-minted agreement.
It says: “The European Council firmly states that it excludes any reopening of the withdrawal agreement in the future and recalls that any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the United Kingdom should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the withdrawal agreement.”
Mr Johnson is close to securing a snap pre-Christmas election after signalling he is open to striking a deal with Remainer parties.
No10 said the Prime Minister would “look at all options” to allow an early vote, including proposals from the Liberal Democrats and SNP for a December 9 poll.
It would cut the Labour Party out of the loop after Jeremy Corbyn twice ordered his MPs to stop the public being given a say.