EU Grants the U.K. a Brexit Extension Yet Again

Protestors outside the Palace of Westminster [Wikimedia Commons].

Protestors outside the Palace of Westminster [Wikimedia Commons].

The British Parliament voted on March 14 to ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. In the elapsed month, Brexit remains uncertain. However, some observers believe the U.K. may not leave the EU after all, the New York Times reports.

The 27 remaining EU countries and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to a “flexible extension” until October 31, according to CBS News. While some EU members expressed sympathy for the U.K., many struck a harsher tone. EU President Donald Tusk urged the U.K. to “not waste this time,” the BBC reports. French President Emmanuel Macron went a step further, arguing that, “What is indispensable is that nothing should compromise the European project in the months to come.” Prior to the EU’s decision, Macron advocated for a short delay to force the U.K. into making a decision, the Financial Times said.

While the U.K.’s delay request received begrudging approval, May remained firm in her commitment to an expedited Brexit. May wanted to move the deadline to June 30 reports the BBC. The EU gave her even more time.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer declared that the October 31 delay would serve as a relief to British businesses. However, the delay also means that businesses will delay important investment decisions even further. According to CNN, a weak housing market, slowing automobile production, and low investment all indicate that Brexit has already begun to take its toll on the economy. News of the delay assuages short-term fears but doesn’t impact overall negative economic trends generated by Brexit.

In order to pass Brexit, May needs support from Labour, Democratic Unionists, and remaining Conservative holdouts, reports the Financial Times. May seeks to negotiate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to compromise on future U.K.-EU relations and approve the agreement in its present form. However, despite May’s best efforts little evidence exists that opinions are budging, reports the Financial Times. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis laments that “There’s been no progress whatsoever, really,” putting May’s objectives in doubt, the BBC reports.

May will attempt to pass her deal one more time before May 22, reports the Financial Times. If this effort fails, the U.K. will conduct EU Parliament elections on May 23, or it will automatically leave the EU in a no-deal Brexit. To avoid this scenario, the EU ruled that the U.K. must hold elections. The Financial Times reports that barring an earlier decision, the U.K. must decide by October 31 whether to ratify the exit treaty, opt for a no-deal Brexit, or cancel its departure completely.

As deadlines pass and frustrations mount, the British public is tiring, reports Politico. Nick Ferrari, a former pro-Brexit broadcaster, announced that he gave up on Brexit, according to LBC Radio. “Just bloody stay and we’ll move on to other things,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

May sums up her views in her statement that, “The U.K. should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal,” the BBC reports. Ultimately, fatigue and public support, or lack thereof, may end up being the determining factors of Brexit’s fate.