On 10 April 2019, the European Union granted the United Kingdom a flexible extension, coined a “flextension”, until 31 October. This additional period of time is intended, to allow the UK to ratify the Brexit Deal, an agreement devised between the EU and the UK for the orderly exit of the UK from the bloc. The Deal includes a transition period, a controversial solution to manage the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and provides for such things as citizens’ rights and the legal status of goods in transit at the moment of Brexit. The flextension will end as soon as the Deal is ratified, if it happens before the end of October. Should the UK Parliament not find a majority to support the Deal, the UK could be forced to seek another extension or risk crashing out of the EU on Halloween.
The so-called “cliff edge” Brexit remains a real possibility considering that the Deal has been rejected by Members of the UK Parliament three times already, and successful cross-party negotiations is not by any means a foregone conclusion. The UK certainly will continue its no deal preparations, including efforts to strike post-Brexit trade agreements with third countries; to date, the agreements it has secured cover only about 11 per cent of UK trade by value. The UK also could use this time to reconsider its Brexit strategy, which ranges from holding a second referendum to attempting to amend the Political Declaration attached to the Deal which delineates mutual commitments concerning the future UK-EU relationship to abandoning Brexit altogether.