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.
A government spokesperson said Monday that, despite the EU's decision, Johnson's view had not changed, and he believed the U.K. should leave the EU on October 31. Johnson did, however, formally accept the deadline being pushed back.
"As you are well aware," Johnson said in a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, "I have no discretion... to do anything other than confirm the U.K.'s formal agreement to this extension."
Johnson also requested that the EU "make clear" that another extension would not be possible.
"It will avoid this Parliament simply extending out membership again and again, distracting from the good conduct of the buisness of the European Union, and corroding public trust in politics in the U.K.," Johnson said.
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.
Johnson was unable to get approval for a December 12 election in a vote in Parliament on Monday evening but said he would introduce a short bill to try to get a vote approved by lawmakers another way on Tuesday.
"It's time to replace this Parliament with a new Parliament that can get Brexit done," he said.