Brussels, 25 October 2019 (dpa/MIA) – EU ambassadors are due Friday to consider Britain’s request to delay its departure from the European Union beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed early elections in December.
Representatives from the EU‘s remaining 27 member states met on Wednesday without deciding on a Brexit extension, although they broadly agreed on the need for a delay to help break a deadlock in London, according to diplomats in Brussels.
The ratification of a Brexit divorce deal agreed by Johnson and his EU counterparts ground to a halt this week when parliament in London indicated its approval of the deal but scrapped a proposed timetable to scrutinize and ratify it in three days.
The main question now for the EU is how long of an extension to grant. France has floated the idea of a short delay, while Germany is among those countries that are in favor of the three-month prolongation formally sought by the British government.
Johnson’s request to British lawmakers on Thursday for a general election on Dec. 12 plays into arguments favoring an extension until Jan. 31.
It was unclear whether the EU ambassadors would reach a decision on Friday. Any extension request must be formally approved by all remaining EU leaders, who have the final say.
Johnson was compelled to lodge a request for a three-month extension, against his will, by an act of British parliament last weekend.
One possibility is a so-called “flextension,” whereby London would leave the EU before Jan. 31 in the event the exit deal is ratified by both British and EU lawmakers ahead of time.