Under what circumstances can the new Brexit extension (31 Oct) be ended short of that date?

The EU has said that:

If the withdrawal agreement is ratified by both parties before this date, the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month.

But the BBC also reports that:

The UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal.

Is a no-deal scenario before the 31st of October really a possibility?
Are there other circumstances – apart from ratification of the withdrawal deal in Parliament, and not organising EU Parliament elections – under which the UK might leave the EU before that date?

By what date would it become certain that the UK is, or isn't, taking part in European elections?

  • I was thinking the same, but ITV also reported this. Are they perhaps thinking a new PM would cancel EU elections?
    – P Varga
    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:33
  • 1
    @DenisdeBernardy They're just reporting what the EU declared. Just because they're legally obliged to do something doesn't mean it will definitely happen. consilium.europa.eu/media/39042/…
    – Alex
    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


From the April 11 agreement to extend article 50,

Paragraph 9:

the withdrawal should take place on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedures or on 1 November 2019, whichever is the earliest.

Paragraph 10:

If the United Kingdom is still a Member State on 23-26 May 2019, and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, it will be under an obligation to hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law. In the event that those elections do not take place in the United Kingdom, the extension should cease on 31 May 2019.

So the BBC has it correctly - No Deal could happen if the UK doesn't hold EU elections. (But that's extremely unlikely since the UK is organizing them already. For them to get cancelled May would need to get toppled somehow and replaced by a hard Brexiter, or her Deal would need to get passed by then.) Brexit itself could occur earlier than Halloween if the Withdrawal Agreement passes in Parliament.

  • Donald Tusk said that It must be clear that June 31st is not a cliff-edge, but I guess he was wrong..
    – P Varga
    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:51
  • @ᆼᆺᆼ: No, he's right. June 31st isn't a cliff edge at all. If the UK makes it that far the only scenario it would get pushed out is if EU members are fed up with it and the UK (which would still be a full member) doesn't veto the EU kicking the UK out of the EU. The only possible cliff-edge before Oct 31st would be June 1st, and that would occur only if the UK doesn't participate in the EU elections (which is extremely unlikely, since they're being organized). Apr 12, 2019 at 9:56
  • Sorry got confused with that date. Tusk just said June, not the 31st. Can a member state veto sanctions against itself? Also, could a Brexiteer PM unilaterally "trigger" no-deal, or would the EU need to approve a no-deal exit date?
    – P Varga
    Apr 12, 2019 at 10:09
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    @ᆼᆺᆼ: Re the veto, it's a resounding yes when the vote must be unanimous: the UK would still be a full member, which led some off the record EU diplomats to tell journalists that the provision to check on how things went this summer was basically meaningless and toothless. Regarding your second question, I'm not sure off the top of my head, but I'd gather this would make an interesting separate question. Apr 12, 2019 at 10:19
  • The obligation to hold E.U. Parliamentary elections remains enshrined in domestic law until a withdrawal act is enacted. Even a PM who wished to do otherwise would likely have their hand forced by the courts.
    – eggyal
    Apr 14, 2019 at 16:39

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