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Brexit ‘Flextension’ Granted Until 31st October 2019

The EU27, the group responsible for negotiations with the UK in regard to Brexit, were deeply divided over an extension to Article 50. Donald Tusk, European Council president ideally wanted to offer the UK another 12 months to deliver Brexit. However, the prime minister accepted a ‘flextension’ of 6 months, meaning the deadline for Brexit is now Halloween. But the UK can leave beforehand if a decision has been made.

Andrew Byrne, EU correspondent for The Sunday Times penned on Twitter: “All leaders have spoken: 17 pushed for a long extension, 4 prefer a short one but will go with the consensus. Only France sticking to a short extension. 3 are keeping an open mind.” He later went back to his statement, noting that Macron wasn’t the only leader in favour of a short extension. He commented, “several leaned in that direction, but weren’t married to the position.”

What does the Brexit delay mean for expats?

At present, little has been done to alleviate the uncertainty for expats both in the UK and in EU member countries. In March we reported that there was little in place for a plan for the UK to leave the EU at the end of the month and the predictions of many were correct when the deadline was not adhered to. After further potential dates being flung into the Brexit bubble, April saw Mrs May accept the EU27’s Halloween extension date.

It is believed that the future of expats will be clarified over this 6 month period. However, many are fearful that they will be living an unrelenting Groundhog Day of delays and setbacks well past October.

Could the UK face a snap election?

The next General Election is scheduled to be held 5th May 2022. However, with Theresa May claiming she will resign once the Brexit deal is done, this potentially leaves an opening for a new PM. Alan Duncan, Foreign Office minister said: “If we have a general election before Brexit is resolved, it will only make things worse.” This is a sentiment shared by both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs.

Is the extension legal?

The reason the Prime Minister has agreed to delay Article 50 until October is to give her time to persuade MPs to back her EU exit deal or draw up an agreement with the Labour Party. However, according to Conservative MP Sir William Cash, the extension agreement is unlawful. He commented: “After hours of discussions with QCs and former judges, I believe the British Government’s extension of Article 50 is unlawful. For the Prime Minister to agree to such an extension in these circumstances is to knowingly use her power in a way that she herself believes would risk frustrating Parliament’s intention that the UK must leave the EU. This is legally beyond the pale.”

Sir William went on to state that nobody in the Government is allowed to use their power and status “to frustrate the will of Parliament.” However, the UK Government insists its extension of Article 50 fully complies with UK law.

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