The European Union Monday granted Britain a new Brexit delay to Jan. 31 next year.
The move comes as British lawmakers prepare to vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for an early general election on Dec. 12.
The EU divorce delay was announced on Twitter by European Council President Donald Tusk. He said that the EU approved a Brexit “flextension,” meaning that if Britain’s Parliament is able to ratify an EU exit deal negotiated by Johnson ahead of Jan. 31 then Britain can withdraw from the bloc prior to that date.
Britain had been due to leave the EU in just three days on Oct. 31.
It’s the second time the Brexit deadline has been changed since the 2016 referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU.
Later Monday, lawmakers will vote on whether to approve Johnson’s call for an early election. He wants to hold it to break an impasse in Parliament over Brexit.
But two-thirds of Britain’s lawmakers need to vote in favor of the motion for it to pass and Johnson does not hold a majority in the House of Commons.
He has previously been thwarted twice in Parliament over an attempt to call an early election, seen as a proxy vote on Britain’s ties with the EU.
The vote is expected around 5 p.m. London time (1 p.m. ET).
Johnson’s third attempt to call an election follows lawmakers’ rejection of his plan to rush through an EU exit bill that runs to hundreds of pages in just three days. They want more time to scrutinize the legislation and to make sure it does not leave the door open to a possible “no-deal” Brexit during future exit negotiations with the EU that will run through next year. A “no-deal” Brexit could dramatically harm Britain’s economy.
The prime minister was forced to ask for an extension to Britain’s EU departure date after Britain’s Parliament passed a law to ward off the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit.
Johnson strongly opposes any Brexit delay.
He has repeatedly pledged to finalize the first stage, a transition deal, of Britain’s EU divorce battle by Oct. 31. A second stage will involve negotiating its future relationship with the EU on trade, security and other salient issues.
Most polls show that Johnson would likely comfortably win any new national vote.
Because he currently does not have a majority in Parliament this would give him more leeway to pursue his Brexit agenda and other pro-business, Conservative priorities.