EU gives May till October for Brexit
The summit deal in Brussels in the early hours of April 11 meant Britain will not crash out on April 12 without a treaty to smooth its passage. But it offers little clarity on when, how or even if Brexit will happen, as May struggles to build support in parliament for withdrawal terms agreed with the EU last year.
With German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that Britain would not be forced out and that a chaotic no-deal departure must be avoided if at all possible, there was never any real doubt that May would get an extension.
The drama was about its length and conditions.
French President Emmanuel Macron, reprising a role he took last month when May got a first, two-week delay, pushed leaders into hours of debate over dinner as he fought a largely solo campaign to persuade them not to give the British up to another year.
Summit chair Donald Tusk and others argued that obliging May to accept a much longer deadline than the June 30 date she had sought could help swing pro-Brexit hardliners within her own Conservative party behind her deal, fearing a long delay could see the British public turning against a withdrawal altogether.
The result was a compromise on the date, with a deadline of Oct. 31, for Britain to leave, deal or no deal -- on condition that May holds an election on May 23 to return British members to a new European Parliament that convenes in July, and that it pledge not to disrupt key EU decision-making before it leaves.
If May fails to win over lawmakers on the treaty or fails to hold an election, Britain will leave with no deal on June 1.