Britain has been granted an extension until 31 October for their eventual departure from the EU – pushing it back from the previous 12 April deadline.
It’s not the June deadline Mrs May was searching for, but it does apply the brakes to the process, offering the PM and MPs a little rest-bite from the ever encroaching view of the no-deal cliff edge.
The UK now has nearly six months until the finally of Brexit plays out over Halloween. Theresa May has shown her reluctance to leave the EU without an orderly arrangement, still favouring her own negotiated Withdrawal Agreement. So, in a sense, the EU has offered her the gift of more time to conjure a compromise with Labour and get some analogous deal through parliament. Beware the trick, however.
This extension simultaneously offers greater magnitudes of hope for those who would like to see a democratic stop to all this Brexit madness, through the process of a referendum, or a parliamentary motion to revoke Article 50 altogether. The referendum result of 2016 becomes further in the distance and, with it too, the strength of its supposed mandate. More Brexiteers change their stripes everyday.
The delay could also serve-up two very different elections.: A general election, to try and breakthrough the deadlock, or a Tory leadership election, that would seek to put a hard Brexiteer at the helm.
Laura Kuenssberg, BBC’s political editor, reported that even before the extension decision was finalised, one minister said “the prime minister can stay on ‘in name only’ with a leadership contest getting going as early as just after Easter and a new leader in place by early summer.”
Perhaps, then, when the new deadline does approach, the UK will have a new PM actively taunting us with the cliff edge; but this one might be serious about jumping. That would be a very spooky Halloween indeed.
If that eventuality does come to pass, the EU may regret giving the UK a newly manufactured Brexit break pedal. Although, this decision could also act as the accelerator, driving the UK toward remain.