Talks between the U.K. and the European Union to work out a free trade deal by Oct. 15 have not gone smoothly. Above, an employee hangs a Union Jack at EU headquarters in Brussels in 2019. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
Brexit

EU grants new Brexit delay to Jan. 31

Associated Press Oct 28, 2019
Talks between the U.K. and the European Union to work out a free trade deal by Oct. 15 have not gone smoothly. Above, an employee hangs a Union Jack at EU headquarters in Brussels in 2019. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union agreed to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 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 U.K. will be able to leave earlier if the Brexit deal secured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ratified before Jan. 31.

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 Oct. 31.

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’s 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 Dec. 12 election, but looks unlikely to get the required support from two-thirds of lawmakers.

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

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