Like a continually delayed movie release, Brexit has been postponed again, with the deadline for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union pushed forward three months to Jan. 31, 2020.
The other 27 member states of the trading bloc assented to another delay because the British Parliament remains unable to agree on a withdrawal bill. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to pull the U.K. out of the E.U. by this Thursday, “do or die,” but he has failed to get his deal with the E.U. on Brexit terms passed by lawmakers. He is now arguing for a general election in early December to break the deadlock, but it is unclear whether opposition parties will support that call.
Johnson was bound by law to seek an extension, even though he himself is opposed to one, because Parliament said it would not countenance crashing out of the E.U. without a deal in place. Critics warn that a “no deal” Brexit would cause economic chaos and disaster, with goods unable to enter Britain from Continental Europe, causing shortages of food and medical supplies.
Donald Tusk, the E.U. Council president, announced the postponement Monday morning, tweeting that the European Union had agreed to a “flextension,” meaning that Britain could leave the club earlier than Jan. 31 if lawmakers approve a withdrawal bill before then.
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More than three years have elapsed since the June 2016 referendum in which British voters opted to take their country out of the E.U. by a 52% to 48% vote. The British entertainment industry is overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the E.U