Summary:

  • Following negotiations that went well into the night, the EU took control of the Brexit endgame, turning down the UK Prime Minister’s plea to postpone Brexit from 29 March to 30 June, and instead drawing up a “flextension” plan that officially delays Brexit to 12 April 2019 at the earliest.
  • Under the terms of the plan, which was devised by the EU’s 27 heads of state and government and accepted by the UK Prime Minister, the twice-rejected “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU will be brought back to the UK Parliament for a vote next week.
  • If the UK Parliament approves the deal, the UK will exit on 22 May 2019, the day before European Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place.
  • If the UK Parliament rejects the deal – as is expected – the new No-Deal Brexit date of 12 April 2019 will be triggered. However, the UK Government will be able to seek a longer extension from the EU at any point up to 12 April 2019 if it can (i) “indicate a way forward” (which would likely entail UK Parliament wresting control of Brexit proceedings from the UK Government and building some form of UK Parliamentary cross-party consensus for a softer Brexit); and (ii) agree to take part in the European Parliamentary elections on 23 May 2019.
  • In practice, this means that even if the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected once and for all next week by UK Parliament, all options will remain open until 12 April 2019; a softer Brexit, No-Deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.