European Union leaders have granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit, after five hours of talks in Brussels on Wednesday.
The new deadline - 31 October - averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as MPs are still deadlocked over a deal.
The Prime Minister has said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible. The UK must now hold European elections in May or leave on 1 June without a deal.
The prime minister 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.
“Although it is positive that we have avoided a ‘no deal’ Brexit on Friday, the Government must use this extension to agree on a deal which protects the interests of the automotive retail sector, one of the strongest contributors to the economy of the UK.
“With more than half a million people employed in automotive retail, the stability of our industry cannot continue to be undermined by the political uncertainty that has been affecting businesses and consumers for more than two years”.
Sue Robinson, NFDA Director
“While we’ve avoided a ‘no deal’ Brexit on Friday, it is utterly unacceptable that, more than two years since negotiations started, industry still does not know what the UK’s relationship with the EU will be in the coming weeks and months. Uncertainty has already caused serious damage – car plants are on enforced shutdown, investment has been cut and jobs lost. This cannot go on. Government and Parliament must use this extension purposefully to take ‘no deal’ off the table for good, and guarantee a positive long-term resolution that delivers frictionless trade. If they fail, we face yet another devastating ‘no deal’ precipice on 31 October”.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive
“This new extension means that an imminent economic crisis has been averted, but it needs to mark a fresh start. More of the same will just mean more chaos this autumn.
“Businesses will today be adjusting their no deal plans, not cancelling them.
“For the good of jobs and communities across the country, all political leaders must use the time well. Sincere cross-party collaboration must happen now to end this crisis.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General