EU sick of Brexit, but likely to grant an extension if asked

European Union chiefs are so fed up of Brexit that when they clinched a deal with Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week they did not want to entertain the need to delay Britain's departure beyond Oct. 31.

But if Johnson does seek an extension for the divorce - as now seems likely after his failure to get the agreement approved in parliament on Saturday - there is very little chance that the other 27 members states would refuse.

"I can't see them refusing," Anand Menon, director of UK in a Changing Europe and a Brexit expert, told Reuters. "They don't want no deal and they certainly don't want to be blamed for it."

If the 27 are asked to agree on a new deadline, it is likely that they would do so at a hastily convened emergency summit before the end of October, possibly next weekend. Their ambassadors are due to meet in Brussels on Sunday morning.

The British parliament voted in favour on Saturday of an amendment that withheld support for the Brexit deal and as a result Johnson is obliged, by law, to request a postponement.

Johnson has insisted that he will not seek a delay beyond Oct. 31 and he reiterated that in parliament after the vote, though he has not explained how he will get around it.

The EU 27 have already agreed twice to postpone Brexit from the original deadline of March 29 this year.

FRUSTRATION IN BRUSSELS

However, frustration has mounted among them over the distraction of a process that has dragged on for three-and-a-half years since Britons voted in a referendum to leave the EU.

After the second extension they said it would be the last one, and French President Emmanuel Macron has been the most outspoken and hawkish among the 27's leaders on the issue.

His camp stresses the cost of protracted uncertainty in terms of sapping the EU's political capital and attention to face challenges from climate and migration to international crises, as well as economic cost for companies that have invested in contingency preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Britain's House of Commons last month passed a law demanding that the government seeks a postponement until the end of January 2020 to avoid an abrupt split on Oct. 31 if a divorce deal is not approved by parliament by Oct. 19.

Despite French misgivings, the EU has made repeatedly clear it would not want to be seen pushing a member state out and that its absolute priority is to avoid a no-deal Brexit, especially one for which it would take the blame if it refused an extension.

However, an extension can only be granted by unanimity among the 27 and, asked whether there was any serious risk that Macron could refuse it, an EU official said: "No."

"If there is a chance of a deal, they will never choose no deal," said Nick Petre, spokesman for the Renew Europe group of liberals in the European Parliament that includes Macron.

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'Super Saturday': Another day of Brexit drama
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'Super Saturday': Another day of Brexit drama
Johnson under fire over unsigned Brexit extension request to EU
In this image issued by 10 Downing Street, showing of a letter written by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed to the European Council President Donald Tusk asking the European Union for a delay to Brexit Saturday Oct. 19, 2019. The British government has formally asked the European Union for a delay to Brexit — but also sent a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson arguing against it. Johnson was forced to request a delay after Parliament voted to delay a decision on whether to back his Brexit deal. A law passed last month compelled the government to try to postpone Britain's departure if no deal was agreed by Saturday. (Downing Street via AP)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: A police officer keeps watch over two pro-Brexit activists at Parliament Square as anti-Brexit activists protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit protesters take part in 'Together for the Final Say' rally on October 19th, 2019, in London, UK. A few days before the Brexit becomes a reality, one of the biggest public protests in British history took place in London. More than a million people participated in mass outside parliament to deliver a message loud and clear to the Government and MPs that they should trust the people, not Boris Johnson, to solve the Brexit crisis. At the Parliament Square, speeches were given from leading cross-party politicians and celebrity voices who support a People's Vote. (Photo by Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: 'Tories Against Brexit' demonstrators hold placards on Piccadilly during the protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Lord Michael Heseltine speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: A pro-Brexit activist with a placard at Parliament Square as anti-Brexit activists protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: An elderly woman with a placard at Piccadilly during the protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: Elderly demonstrator with a placard at Park Lane during the protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/19: An elderly demonstrator shouts slogans along Piccadilly during the protest. A mass 'Together for the Final Say' march, organised by the 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum. Britain's political crisis over Brexit has once again reached fever pitch as the UK's October 31 departure date from the EU draws closer, with MPs and the public as divided as ever over the issue. Campaigners for the so-called People's Vote, or 'Final Say' referendum, argue that the kind of Brexit on offer from Boris Johnson's government has diverged so far from promises made by him and other 'Leave' advocates in 2016 that the public must again be consulted on whether it wants to proceed. (Photo by David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Hilary Benn, Labour Party MP and Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson responds to questions after he delivered his statement on his new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
General view of the House of Commons as parliament discusses Brexit, sitting on a Saturday for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War, in London, Britain, October 19, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Parliament TV via REUTERS
Labour MP Jess Phillips speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson responds to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement on his new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Sir Oliver Letwin MP moving his amendment after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement on the Government's new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Hilary Benn, Chair of The House of Commons' Brexit Committee, responds to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement on his new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Sir Oliver Letwin MP listens as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on the Government's new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
Former Tory MP Dominic Grieve speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Pro-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Alastair Campbell speaks during a rally in Parliament Square as hundreds of thousands of people take part in the anti-Brexit 'Together for the Final Say' march through central London to demand a public vote on the outcome of Brexit on 19 October, 2019 in London, England. The demonstration coincides with an emergency Saturday session of Parliament where MPs witheld approval for Boris Johnson's EU withdrawal deal. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove speaks in the House of Commons, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement on his new Brexit deal.
Union Jack flags fly outside the Houses of Parliament where pro and anti-Brexit supporters gathered in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Former prime minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement on his new Brexit deal.
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Police officers monitor protesters in an anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard march on Old Park Lane as they head to Parliament Square in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A pro-Brexit protester outside the Houses of Parliament in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement to lawmakers inside the House of Commons to update details of his new Brexit deal with EU, in London Saturday Oct. 19, 2019. At a rare weekend sitting of Parliament, Johnson implored legislators to ratify the Brexit deal he struck this week with the other 27 EU leaders. (House of Commons via AP)
Morris dancers take part in an anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard march on Old Park Lane as they head to Parliament Square in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
First morning light strikes the Houses of Parliament in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Pro-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Anti-Brexit protestors march in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed new divorce deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters hold a placard showing current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former PM David Cameron as they take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Anti-Brexit supporters gather around the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Anti-Brexit supporters carry signs and EU flags during a march in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed new divorce deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters hold a placard showing current Prime Minister Boris Johnson portrayed as the Joker as they take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters hold a placard showing current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage as they take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A woman has the EU flag painted on her cheek as she and other anti-Brexit protestors march in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed new divorce deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a "People's Vote" protest march calling for another referendum on Britain's EU membership, in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Protesters at an anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard rally in Parliament Square in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Protesters in an anti-Brexit, 'Let Us Be Heard' march on Piccadilly in London, as they head to Parliament Square. Picture date: Saturday October 19, 2019. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
Stephen McGann (second left) and Sir Patrick Stewart (centre) join protesters in an anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard march on Old Park Lane as they head to Parliament Square in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Protesters pull a float depicting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings during an anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard march on Old Park Lane as they head to Parliament Square in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer responds to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay's statement on the Government's new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer responds to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay's statement on the Government's new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on the Government's new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, to go to the Houses of Parliament in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Britain's Parliament is set to vote in a rare Saturday sitting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new deal with the European Union, a decisive moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate. Various scenarios may be put in motion by the vote. (AP Photo/Vudi Xhymshiti)
Former justice secretary David Gauke responds to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement on his new Brexit deal in the House of Commons, London, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
General view of the House of Commons, which is sitting on a Saturday for the first time since 1982. Picture date: Saturday October 19, 2019. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
Labour MP Jess Phillips outside the House of Commons, which is sitting on a Saturday for the first time since 1982. Picture date: Saturday October 19, 2019. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
A European Union and an Irish flag fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10 Downing Street, on his way to the House of Commons, which is sitting on a Saturday for the first time since 1982. Picture date: Saturday October 19, 2019. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
(Left to right) DUP MPs Nigel Dodds, Gregory Campbell, and Sammy Wilson listen as Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement in the House of Commons, London, to update the House on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday" .
MP Liz Saville-Roberts holds a copy of the Withdrawal Agreement outside the Houses of Parliament in London ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a statement in the House of Commons on his new Brexit deal after the EU Council summit, on what has been dubbed "Super Saturday".
Anti-Brexit demonstrators carry placards and EU flags in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed new divorce deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Anti-Brexit demonstrators carry placards and EU flags in London, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. In their first weekend session in 37 years, British lawmakers in Parliament debated whether to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed new divorce deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Brexit: trois lettres pour demander un nouveau report de la sortie de l'UE
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A ONE-MONTH DELAY?

It is, however, possible that the EU 27 will grant a "technical extension" of one month - instead of the Jan. 31 deadline Johnson is obliged to request - to give Britain and the European Parliament time to approve the deal clinched this week.

"It can still just be a technical extension, only until the end of November. And they could still get out of it if they manage to pass it before October 31," said an EU diplomat who deals with Brexit.

Another EU diplomat said the length of an extension and conditions attached would depend on the purpose behind the request.

"If we still hope to be able to salvage this deal, we'd be looking at shorter ones," the diplomat said. "Then, if we are looking at elections or second referendums, a longer one would most likely be needed. At this stage, it really depends on what happens in Britain in the coming hours."

Many in Brussels believe there could be no more extensions beyond mid-2020 as the bloc needs the rest of the year to prepare its new, long-term budget from 2021 and needs to know whether Britain will go on paying.

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