EU agrees to Brexit extension till 31 January; European Council chief Donald Tusk says decision expected to be formalised soon

Brussels: The European Union agreed to delay Brexit until 31 January next year on Monday, just three days before it was due to take place.

European Council president Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the EU’s 27 other countries agreed to accept “the UK’s request for a Brexit flextension until 31 January 2020. The decision is expected to be formalized through a written procedure.”

The term flextension means that the UK will be able to leave earlier if the Brexit deal secured by prime minister Boris Johnson is ratified before 31 January. Tusk’s announcement came as European Union diplomats met in Brussels to sign off on the new delay for Britain’s departure, which had been on 31 October.

Leaving the envoys, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “it was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting and I am happy the decision has been taken.” He declined to provide details of the talks.

It is the second time the Brexit deadline has been changed since the 2016 referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU. In London, British politicians are later set to vote on whether to hold an early election to try to break the country’s deadlock over Brexit. Johnson wants a 12 December election but looks unlikely to get the required support from two-thirds of lawmakers.

Two opposition parties plan to push for a 9 December election if Johnson’s proposal fails.

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