European Council president Donald Tusk has said the UK and the EU have agreed a “flexible extension” of Brexit until 31 October.
Speaking after five hours of talks at an EU summit in Brussels, Tusk said his “message to British friends” was “please do not waste this time”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that there will probably be a European election in the UK and that might seem a bit odd, but rules are rules and one must respect European law and then see what happens.
Theresa May said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Mrs May had earlier told leaders she wanted to move the UK’s exit date from this Friday to 30 June, with the option of leaving earlier if her withdrawal agreement was ratified by Parliament.
Tusk emerged from the talks,and a subsequent meeting with Mrs May, to address reporters at a news conference at 02:15 am.
He said: “The course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands: they can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension can be terminated.”
Tusk said the UK could also rethink its strategy or choose to “cancel Brexit altogether”.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte expected the extension to be the “last delay” to Brexit. He said that on the 31 October, the British will either have agreed to a deal, have decided to cancel Brexit or leave without a deal.