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BREXIT

EU agrees to three-month Brexit ‘flextension’

The EU has agreed a three-month Brexit 'flextension' until January 31st 2020, which gives the UK the option of leaving before then if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified.

EU agrees to three-month Brexit 'flextension'
European Council president Donald Tusk with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk announced the agreement on Twitter on Monday morning.

He called the extension a “flextension” – a flexible extension – meaning that if MPs in London approve the Brexit deal, then the UK could leave the EU sooner than January 31st.

If the UK parliament does ratify Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement then it is believed the UK would leave the EU on the first day of the following month, so December 1st or January 1st.

The announcement of the extension had been expected on Friday but was delayed after the French objected to a longer extension unless there was a guarantee of a general election.

But on Monday morning, in a sign the French had agreed to drop their demand for a shorter extension, a diplomatic source hinted that a three-month delay was “very probable”.

The indication by a French source said that a potential three-month extension is hugely significant given that Paris was always seen as the major EU player most wary of another delay.

French president Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly expressed impatience over the repeated postponements of Brexit, saying they are getting in the way of his vision of reforming the European Union. 

“The conditions of the extension have been specified and reinforced, notably on the fact that the deal (reached between Britain and the EU) is not renegotiable,” added the French source.

“France insisted on the necessary conditions to preserve the unity of the 27 (remaining members of the EU).”

British lawmakers are due to vote Monday afternoon on Johnson's call for an early election to be held on December 12th.

The French source said that the chance of elections in Britain – which could result in a reconfigured parliament and help Johnson push through the deal – had “clearly strengthened over the weekend.”

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, who oppose Brexit, said over the weekend they could back the snap elections under certain conditions.

Member comments

  1. So, they don’t really want the people to have their vote. They voted to leave and that should be honored. If not, the people don’t have a vote. No one is “owed” a deal. Leave now.

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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