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EU grants three-month Brexit extension as UK Parliament prepares for election vote

By Hugh Wilson

Eyes turn back to UK as Prime Minister tries to force through plans for pre-Christmas election

The EU has granted the UK’s request for a Brexit extension until January 31, 2020, potentially paving the way for a pre-Christmas election.

MPs will now debate a Government motion calling for a general election, with a vote expected sometime early this evening, October 28.

If the Government, as expected, fails to achieve the two-thirds majority required under the Fixed-term Parliament Act (FTPA), Downing Street sources have suggested it will explore other ways of forcing a poll.

That might include supporting a plan put forward by two smaller opposition parties – the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party – to use legislation to bypass the FTPA.

That would effectively sidestep the main opposition Labour Party’s ability to veto an election. Government sources have suggested that, if he loses the vote on Monday evening, Johnson may table a very similar bill as early as October 29.

Johnson is gambling on an election returning him to power with a large enough majority to force through his Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Parties who want to remain in the EU are hoping an election will strengthen their hand in a push for a second referendum. The Labour Party has said up to now that it wouldn’t support an election unless a no-deal Brexit was categorically ruled out.

The new Brexit extension lets the UK leave earlier than January 31 if a deal is ratified before that date. In that case, the UK would quit the EU on the first day of the month after the deal was signed.

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