UK Could Ask for Brexit Extension and Still Leave EU Oct. 31

British flag being cut by scissors from the European union flag
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could ask for another extension to the Brexit deadline, which is currently set for October 31. At the same time, Johnson continues to maintain that the UK will leave the European Union (EU) on October 31. 

The potential plan to ask for another extension has come to light as part of a court case in which a businessperson and a Member of Parliament have sued the government to force it to comply with the Benn Act, the BBC reports. The Benn Act was passed in early September by the UK’s Parliament, and it requires the Prime Minister to either pass a Brexit deal in Parliament or get Members of Parliament to approve a no-deal Brexit; after that deadline, the legislation requires the Prime Minister to request an extension of the deadline to January 2020. 

According to the BBC, government papers submitted to the court show that Johnson will send a letter to the EU asking for an extension if no deal is reached by October 19. At the same time, Johnson has said “we will obey the law, and will come out on 31 October.” 

The papers have come to light a day after the European Parliament told Johnson that his latest Brexit proposal is not “even remotely” acceptable, according to The Guardian. Johnson’s latest proposal reportedly attempts to avoid the imposition of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by having Northern Ireland remain under the EU’s agri-food and manufactured goods regulations from 2021 through 2025. The EU has rejected this plan, saying “The UK proposals do not match even remotely what was agreed as a sufficient compromise in the backstop.” 

Th Irish border has been a key sticking point in Brexit negotiations. Some commentators have suggested that a harder border could “damage the spirit” of the Good Friday Agreement, a peace accord that followed a period of violence in Northern Ireland commonly called “The Troubles.”

In terms of travel, both the United States and the European Union have deals in place to allow flights to and from the UK to continue, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. At the same time, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has had an impact on the UK’s travel industry. Brexit uncertainty was one of the factors blamed for the recent collapse of iconic UK travel brand Thomas Cook, along with a decline in the value of the pound (also partially due to Brexit uncertainty), changing booking habits and unusually hot weather that discouraged Northern Europeans from traveling. The company filed for insolvency and ceased operations early last week, stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers and prompting the UK’s largest repatriation effort since World War II

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