London — The United Kingdom will not leave the European Union as scheduled on Thursday after the EU approved a so-called “flextension” to the previous October 31 Brexit deadline. Now, the U.K. has until January 31 to leave the bloc, but could do so at an earlier date if a Brexit deal is approved by Britain’s Parliament.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised that Brexit would happen on October 31 “do or die,” but a recently passed law forced him toto that date after he was unable to get his approved by British lawmakers.
Johnson’s spokesperson said Monday that, despite the EU’s decision, his view had not changed and he believes the U.K. should leave the EU on October 31. The spokesperson said Johnson would respond to the EU once he had seen their official letter.
The extension, which has been approved in principle, will be formalized in writing by the EU over the coming days.
In Britain, an election is triggered by a vote in Parliament, and the move by the EU to delay Brexit puts pressure on U.K. lawmakers to decide if and when the country will have one.
Johnson wants to schedule an election for December 12 to try to tip the balance of power in Parliament in his favor. Other political parties have suggested alternative dates, or said they will only agree to an election if the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table.
Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on whether or not to back Johnson’s call for December 12 general election at 5 pm on Monday.