After parliament failed to reach a Brexit deal by the initial deadline of the 31st October 2019, and blocked the possibility of a no-deal Brexit through a law known as the Benn Act, Boris Johnson was forced to request an extension from the EU.
The extension was granted by the EU Council on the 28th October, just three days before the earlier deadline of the 31st October. The new deadline falls on the 31st January 2020, and the EU Council President Donald Tusk has named the extension a “flextension.” This means that the terms of the deadline allow the UK to leave the EU at any time before the deadline, provided it has been authorised by parliament.
Although Boris Johnson had pledged to pull the UK out of the EU by the 31st October, this promise has now officially been broken, and No 10 have claimed that this is at the fault of parliament.
The acceptance of the new January deadline comes at a time in which parliament have voted for a general election by 438 votes to 20. It is set to take place on December 12th. Although Johnson had previously attempted to establish an early election, this had repeatedly been rejected by the House of Commons. The SNP and Liberal Democrats were particularly vocal in their support for an early election. Whilst previously not campaigning for an early general election, the loss of hope over MPs voting for a second referendum have left the SNP and Lib Dems in a dilemma.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party seem to be split in opinion and have failed to come to a uniform decision on their course of action. The People’s Vote Campaign has claimed that there is a majority in the House of Commons for a second referendum to be held, and that the decision should be in the hands of the people. Although Labour have been pushing for this similar agenda and believe that the deal should be approved or denied through a second referendum, as Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson described, Labour have not sufficiently backed a people’s vote, and remain split in their decisions.
Whilst securing the 31st January deadline did not come with much surprise, the vote to back an early general election has created high anticipation around country. Whilst the public prepare to cast their votes on December 12th, the anxieties of Brexit show no sign of fading.