EU ambassadors agree in principle to grant U.K. another Brexit extension

European Union ambassadors have agreed in principle to grant the U.K.’s request for another extension to Brexit’s deadline, but have yet to decide on the length of any new delay.

Speaking Friday after EU ambassadors met with Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier, European Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said ambassadors “have agreed to the principle of an extension” and their work will “continue in the coming days.”

The U.K. is scheduled to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31 but has asked for a three-month extension to that deadline.

An EU diplomat, speaking anonymously because discussions are ongoing, said ambassadors will meet again on Monday to discuss the length of the possible extension.

Under an amendment passed by U.K. lawmakers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to send a letter to the EU to request the delay.

If it is granted, Johnson plans to ask Parliament to approve an early national election for Dec. 12. He says it’s the only way to break the impasse around Brexit.

However, the U.K.’s main opposition party said Friday it will block plans for the early election unless Johnson eliminates the possibility of leaving the EU without an agreement.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to see the U.K.’s departure from the EU on Oct. 31 delayed. (Jessica Taylor/U.K. Parliament/AP)

Diane Abbott, Labour Party spokesperson on domestic affairs, said her party wouldn’t vote for the election until the government guarantees there won’t be a no-deal Brexit, because Labour doesn’t trust Johnson.

Abbott told the BBC on Friday “we want to know that by some mischance we won’t crash out of the EU without a deal, because we’ve said for some time that coming out of the EU without a deal would be absolutely disastrous.”

Reluctant at first to agree to another extension, France is now willing to accept a new delay. But French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin told RTL radio on Thursday night that France wants to see “a clear scenario” before taking a decision.

“Our position is that simply giving more time, without political change, without ratification, without an election, would be useless.”

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