Here’s What’s Happening With Brexit — and When You Need to Start Worrying About It
We’ll know for sure next week whether or not it’s time to start worrying about Brexit.
On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the European Council for a three-month extension to continue Brexit negotiations. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said the commission would likely grant an extension — but only if British parliament votes in support of May’s proposed deal next week.
“In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days I believe that a short extension will be possible but to be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons,” Tusk said in a statement on Wednesday.
May approached the European Council this week and asked to extend Brexit negotiations until June 30. The decision is hanging on a vote scheduled to take place in the British House of Commons next week.
“If the leaders approve my recommendations, and if there is a positive vote in the House of Commons next week, we can finalise and formalise the decision on the extension in a written procedure,” Tusk said in a statement. “However, if there is such a need, I will not hesitate to invite the members of the European Council for a meeting to Brussels next week.”
Multiple European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that they would work "until the last hours" to avoid a situation that would cause the U.K. to leave Europe without a deal, according to the BBC. But Europe’s willingness to approve an extension doesn’t mean it will necessarily be so. May has already twice presented a Brexit plan to parliament and it has twice been shot down.
The current Brexit deadline is March 29. If parliament does not pass the withdrawal agreement, the U.K. could leave Europe with “no deal,” which would cause long delays at borders and passport control, temporarily halt trading and likely cause the British sterling pound to tank on the international market.
Although May has said she is not interested in pushing back Brexit any further than June 30, the European Commission could also approve a longer extension. Parliament could vote on a new deal, hold a vote of “no confidence” (which would force May to step down) or bring the Brexit vote back to the public with a referendum to remain in the European Union.
May is expected to make a formal statement on Thursday evening.
If the U.K. does leave Europe at the end of the month, it will still be possible to travel there. However, travelers will likely find longer waits at customs and may not have easy access to European-produced goods.