"I continue to believe we need to leave the EU, with a deal, as soon as possible" UK Prime Minister Theresa May said.
“I have just met with Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest,” May said at a press conference.
She said the EU agreed to the postponement on the basis that it can be terminated whenever the UK ratifies its withdrawal agreement.
She had only asked for two months for the extension but the EU, apparently not confident she can quickly strike a deal, opted for a longer timeline.
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) April 11, 2019
Theresa May: the extension is frustrating for all sides
If the UK can finally achieve a deal by late May, it will be able to bypass the upcoming European elections and formally leave the EU on 1 June.
While the extension continues, the UK will continue to have full membership rights in the EU, as well as all its existing legal and financial obligations.
May acknowledged there was “huge frustration from many people” that she could not convince lawmakers to agree to a deal and had to seek the extension.
In March, May had vowed to quit the leadership as soon as a deal is done but it is not yet clear if this latest development will prompt a rethink.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the extension would allow for a neater exit. “We want an orderly exit of Great Britain and an orderly exit of Great Britain can be best ensured if we give it some time,” she said.
France had apparently pushed for a shorter deadline at the negotiating table, but was overruled. Unnamed other countries were reportedly amenable to an extension stretching into 2020.
The pound remained steady after news of the extension was reported, suggesting most currency speculators had accepted a delay was inevitable and had priced it in.
Kazushige Kaida, Head of Forex at State Street Bank said there was still no clarity around Brexit. “It seems difficult for the parliament to come to any agreement,” he said. “Once the dust settles, I would expect to see selling in sterling,” he added.