Leo Varadkar backs UK's Brexit extension request

Leo Varadkar backs UK's Brexit extension request

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told European Council president Donald Tusk he is in favour of a new Brexit deadline delay which could push out the October 31 EU-UK divorce date until January 31.

Mr Varadkar told Mr Tusk of his views during a phone call this morning after the House of Commons voted against British prime minister Boris Johnson's "do or die" Brexit timeline on Tuesday night.

MPs voted in favour of discussing Mr Johnson's Brexit deal last night - but scrapped his plans for an October 31 deadline in a 322-308 vote by saying it does not leave enough time for detailed debate.

Mr Johnson is now almost certain to be unable to succeed in removing Britain from the EU by October 31, and could be forced to comply with any deadline extension offered by Brussels after his unsigned weekend letter request.

A number of options have been suggested as part of any EU deadline extension, including a November 10-15 extension, a delay until January 31 or a "flex-tension" which could see a three-month delay offered which can be ended at any point if the House of Commons agrees on a way forward.

However, any extension offer can only take place if it is agreed by all 27 EU member state leaders, with French president Emmanuel Macron known to be extremely reluctant to offer any more time after previously warning Britain of the need for a decision during the March delay deal.

European Council president Donald Tusk is currently calling all EU member state leaders to ask for their views on whether they are open to an extension.

And, in a statement this morning, a Government spokesperson said Mr Varadkar told him in their phone call he supports giving Britain more time.

"An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, spoke with the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, this morning regarding the UK’s request for an extension.

"The Taoiseach confirmed his support for president Tusk’s proposal to grant the request for an extension which was sought by the UK. They noted that it would still be possible for the UK to leave before January 31st 2020 if the withdrawal agreement has been ratified in advance of that date. The matter is likely to be discussed further at tonight’s meeting of the committee of permanent representatives in Brussels."

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