BRUSSELS – Brexit will be postponed for the third time after United Kingdom lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's timetable, forced by law to leave the European Union.
On Tuesday, a majority of MEPs (MEPs) expressed support for the agreement Johnson reached with the other 27 EU countries last week. However, with a subsequent vote only 15 minutes later, they refused to rush through the necessary legislation to leave the EU after three working days.
The United Kingdom is now in a holding mode when Johnson suspends his withdrawal bill, which can still be scrapped completely. This significantly reduces Britain's chances of leaving the EU on October 31
UK media reports suggest that Downing Street will push for an election if Brexit is delayed by January. The potential dates for this vote will be December 5 or December 12, and this will be the first winter general election in the country since 1974. Several betting companies have a 50% chance of a December election.
But the immediate focus has now shifted from Westminster to Brussels. The other 27 countries have to decide whether to answer "yes" to the US request for an extension. Johnson reluctantly informed the EU on Saturday that the UK Parliament needed more time by the end of January 2020 to leave the EU.
"Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and to avoid Brexit without a deal, I would recommend the EU-27 to accept Britain's request for an extension," said European Council President Donald Tusk.
At this stage, it is unclear whether the EU will accept the UK Parliament's request for a delay by January or decide on another deadline. This decision will depend on the talks that Tusk has with the various leaders and whether there are questions about the third delay, which must be unanimous
European leaders have been adamant over the last week that they want to move to the next phase of the process. The Kingdom of the EU consists of two steps: a divorce deal and a future trade deal.
"I hope we can keep to the deadline we have given ourselves and that the date of October 31 has been met," Emmanuel Macron, President of France, he told reporters in Brooks fir on friday. Macron also said, "I don't think another delay should be given. We need to end these negotiations and move on to negotiating our future relationships and implementing them."
The EU believes that further enlargement will prolong uncertainty for citizens and businesses on both sides of the Channel.
No Brexit Emergency Summit?
Tusk also believes that the EU must decide on the enlargement request through a "written procedure", which means that there is no need for an urgent Brexit summit in Brussels.
An EU official who does not want to be appointed because of the sensitivity of the issue told CNBC that EU leaders can decide on a delay as early as Thursday. "But it could easily happen next week," said an official.
A second official in Brussels, who also wanted to remain anonymous, told CNBC that "there is no indication" of the timing of the decision. Generally, it will depend on how different countries feel about a third Brexit delay, the source said.
However, the meeting between the 27 European ambassadors is due to take place on Wednesday.
The sterling sank slightly on Wednesday morning to 1.2868 against the dollar. The pound is moving lower after falling over $ 1.30 at the end of last week when Johnson signed his agreement with Brussels.