Boris Johnson
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  • The EU has agreed to delay Brexit until January 31 2020.
  • EU leaders met on Monday and agreed unanimously to grant an extension, which parliament could use to hold a general election.
  • It represents an embarrassing climbdown for Boris Johnson, who made a "do or die" pledge to take Britain out of the EU on October 31.
  • For more stories go to BusinessInsider.co.za.

Brexit will be delayed until at least January 31 2020 after European leaders agreed to extend the UK's exit deadline at the end of this month.

Ambassadors from the EU27 member states agreed unanimously to the UK's request to extend Article 50 until January next year following a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

"The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK's request for a #Brexit flextension until 31 January 2020," Donald Tusk, the European Council president, tweeted. "The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure."

It came after France signalled overnight that it was removing its objection to the extension. French President Emmanual Macron's shift came after a phone call with Johnson on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Under the terms of the offer, the UK will be able to terminate the extension at any point provided parliament ratifies the withdrawal agreement and approved a deal.

It represents an embarrassing climbdown for the prime minister, who made a "do or die" pledge to take Britain out of the EU on October 31.

He was forced to send a letter to Brussels requesting an extension earlier in October after parliament passed a law compelling him to accept an extension if he was unable to ratify his deal in parliament by October 19. The move was designed to ensure Johnson was unable to force a no-deal Brexit in October without the approval of parliament.

It comes after the House of Commons voted in favour of the legislation required to deliver Brexit but declined to support Johnson's attempt to fast-track it through parliament in October, meaning he was legally required to request an extension.

The focus will now turn to whether MPs approve Johnson's request for a general election on Monday afternoon. The vote, to be made under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, would require a two-thirds Commons majority of 434 MPs.

The opposition Labour party have told their MPs to abstain or vote against the motion, meaning it is unlikely to pass unless there is a change of heart from the Labour leadership.

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