The UK has been granted a second reprieve warding off a no-deal exit from the EU.
EU leaders agreed a six-month “flextension” after hours of debate in Brussels on Wednesday (10 April).
A new 31 October deadline has been set, although the UK will be able to leave the union before then if prime minister Theresa May can gain enough support for her withdrawal agreement.
MPs, though, remain deadlocked on the issue, with cross-party talks ongoing but yet failing to come to any significant common ground.
The extension confirms the UK will now have to participate in European election in May, or face leaving the EU on 1 June without a deal.
Emerging from the talks, president of the European Council Donald Tusk warned British politicians: “Please do not waste this time.”
He added the UK could also reconsider its course of “cancel Brexit altogether”.
A six-month extension is shorter than the full year many predicted, and it is understood French president Emmanuel Macron was the key figure demanding a shorter extension.
He argued a longer delay risked serious damage to the EU by, as one French official cited by The Guardian put it, “importing Britain’s political crisis into the EU”.
May is expected to address the House of Commons on Thursday (11 April) while cross-party talks involving the Conservatives and Labour are expected to continue.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer has welcomed the news.
“Unless a deal is agreed earlier, which would come with a standstill transition period, the UK will now not depart the EU before the end of October 2019," he said.
"This is good news, and it should give people total confidence to book their holidays or business travel plans, knowing that nothing will change in the short-term.
"It also gives travel businesses some respite from immediate no-deal planning, but with no-deal still possible in the autumn, uncertainty remains about the future.
"It is essential government and MPs use this additional time to find a solution, and one that avoids a no-deal exit.
"During this time, Abta will continue to provide advice and support to Members to help them with their Brexit preparations, lobby the government on the priorities for the travel industry and work to support consumer confidence.”
You simply couldn’t make it up, could you? Should the Brexit deadlock not be broken, the UK will now leave the EU without a deal on October 31 – yes, that’s Halloween.
There’s going to be all manner of harum scarum stuff in Westminster over the coming months – so here’s hoping Theresa May puts the decision back in the hands of the British people before she resorts to trick or treating for votes moments before the witching hour.