UK formally requests an extension to Article 50
Following the recent vote in the House of Commons to seek an extension to Article 50, the Prime Minister has now submitted a formal request.
The request, contained in a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, seeks a three month extension until 30 June 2019. Theresa May subsequently stated that she is not prepared to delay Brexit beyond that date.
As noted previously, any request for an extension of the Article 50 notice period will be subject to the consent of all 27 EU Member States. Following receipt of the UK’s request, Donald Tusk stated that a short extension would be possible on condition that the UK approves the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
So far as domestic legislation is concerned, if the request is approved, the definition of ‘exit day’ in section 20 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, would need to be amended from the current reference to 29 March 2019. Section 20(4) of the Act provides that a Minister may by regulations amend the definition of ‘exit day, although paragraph 14 of Schedule 7 to the Act provides that “a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 20(4) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”
In the interim, the default position remains that the UK will exit the EU on 29 March without a deal unless either a deal is reached or the Article 50 notice period is extended or the notice revoked.