Much to the dismay of U.K. citizens who are exhausted by the ongoing drama created by the decision to withdraw from the European Union, the deadline for leaving has been extended yet again, from October 31st of this year to January 31st, 2020. The extension was granted after Parliament again voted against a deal Boris Johnson made with the E.U. and resulted from legislation requiring the Prime Minister to seek an extension if a deal could not be agreed upon. Although Johnson famously stated that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit again, he was compelled by law to do just that, and the E.U. agreed to postpone the departure for an additional three months.
Under what European Council President Donald Tusk called a “flextension,” the U.K. will be able to leave before January 31st if it is able to agree on a deal in advance of the deadline. If the past few years of Brexit negotiations are any indication, however, the country’s ability to agree upon a deal within the next three months seems unlikely.
In response to Parliament’s failure to ratify his deal, Johnson has advocated for holding an election to form a new government, which he hopes would be able to break the deadlock Parliament is currently experiencing. Though previous attempts to hold another election and reform the government have failed, support for another election has been growing among different parties in Parliament. Today, members of Parliament voted against Johnson’s request to hold an election on December 12th, but Johnson reportedly will try again to call an election on Tuesday.
The extension was announced during ongoing protests against Brexit, held by citizens who fear the negative political impacts of leaving the European Union. Protestors advocate for a second referendum to again determine whether the U.K. should leave the E.U., but the probability of this referendum being held is low. Current polls suggest that, if another election is held, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party would gain seats in Parliament, making it easier to pass a deal to leave the European Union.
If another election is held, the Labour Party is expected to campaign on a platform of pushing for another referendum, though they have stated they would not publicly endorse either the option to leave or to remain. The results of a second referendum are hard to predict; while some people who voted to leave now regret their decision after witnessing the political chaos that has unfolded, others who voted to remain may now desire to leave just to get it over with. And the extreme fatigue many are feeling over the ordeal of Brexit has discouraged some U.K. citizens from engaging in politics at all, as some who voted in previous elections have said they would choose not to vote in future ones.