Brexit leak: Document shows EU preparing to grant three-month extension
UK will be able to leave before January 31st, 2020 if deal is approved, document states
Despite objections raised by the French government, a paper to be agreed on Monday circulated among member states suggests the EU will accede to the UK’s request for a further three-month delay. Photograph: iStock
The EU is ready to sign off on a Brexit extension to January 31st, 2020 with an option to leave earlier if a deal is ratified, according to a leaked draft of the agreement seen by the Guardian.
Despite objections raised by the French government, a paper to be agreed on Monday circulated among member states suggests the EU will accede to the UK’s request for a further three-month delay.
The UK would be able to leave on the first day of the month after a deal is ratified, according to the paper.
The draft paper suggests a no-deal Brexit on October 31st is off the table as demanded by opposition party leaders as a prerequisite for a general election.
Until there is official sign-off on the agreement, there remains the possibility that the terms could change, but it is the first time firm dates have been written into an official document.
“The period provided for in article 50 (3) TEU as extended by the European council decision (EU) 2019/584 is hereby further extended until 31 January 2020,” the draft agreement says.
“In the event that the parties to that agreement complete their respective ratification procedures and notify the depositary of the completion of these procedures in November 2019, in December 2019 or in January 2020, the withdrawal agreement will enter into into force respectively on [the first of the month of the relevant month]”.
The potential date of November 15th for the UK to leave the EU – an idea raised by France – is not included in the draft paper.
The European council president, Donald Tusk, has been in intensive discussions with the EU capitals over the weekend. Ambassadors for the EU27 are meeting on Monday morning.
Mr Tusk had said he wanted to avoid calling leaders to a summit in Brussels to discuss the issue and he would seek to find unanimous agreement to allow sign-off via a “written procedure”.
The circulation of the draft agreement suggests Mr Tusk has been successful in convincing France, in particular, that a three-month extension avoids the EU being dragged into the domestic row in the UK.
The terms in the draft agreement are in line with those stipulated under the Benn act that forced British prime minister Boris Johnson to make a request to the EU for a further delay.
The extension had been due to be signed off on Friday. But the French ambassador had stood alone in a meeting of EU diplomats in arguing it was not the right time.
It was suggested by France’s ambassador that only after the vote on Monday should the EU decide to “go short, to push for ratification, or long to accommodate a general election”. France was alone in insisting the EU wait on agreeing to an extension.
Since then, Mr Johnson told the cabinet the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had informed him he was too isolated to insist on a shorter extension.
Developments over the weekend, in which the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party agreed to table a one-line bill in which they would back a general election on December 9th, have convinced many EU officials the UK will soon go to the polls.
Downing Street has let it be known that if Labour does not support its plan for an short extra period of scrutiny of the withdrawal agreement bill up to November 6th , and then a general election on December 12th, it will look at the joint proposal. – Guardian News and Media 2019