EU leaders approved another extension until 31 January 2020, after the UK failed to ratify a divorce settlement in time and requested another delay.
It was to be the week that finally saw the United Kingdom leave the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the summer and much of the fall promising Brexit would take place on October 31.
Meanwhile, British lawmakers are considering calls for general elections to try to break the deadlock in parliament.
Here is a guide to the latest decisions and the thinking behind them.
January 31: Brexit's new flextension
EU leaders agreed on monday to delay departure from the UK until the end of October. Brexit will now take place on February 1, 2020 – or sooner if the divorce settlement is approved by the British and European parliaments. If the contract is ratified, the United Kingdom will depart on the first day of the following month: December 1 or January 1.
"Flexion" is seen as a compromise. Most EU leaders wanted to extend UK membership until January 31, as this met the UK's request for a three-month delay.
France allegedly advocated a shorter extension; senior officials and ministers said the UK had to give good reason for another delay and wanted to focus the minds of politicians. However, although the decision needed unanimity among EU leaders, it was always thought highly unlikely that France would exercise its veto.
Despite Boris Johnson's repeated promises that the United Kingdom would leave the EU on Halloween, he was forced by law to postpone the absence of parliamentary approval for Brexit's revised agreement until October 19.
See More Information: EU leaders agree with flextension Brexit until January 31, 2020
December 12: Johnson's election call
British lawmakers vote on Monday for the prime minister's proposal for a general election on December 12. It is his third attempt in five weeks to send the country to the polls.
Pursuant to the Term Parliament Act, the vote needs the support of two-thirds of legislators to pass. It is an arduous challenge: the main labor opposition opposes the idea and the conservatives in power do not have a majority in parliament.
In return for supporting the poll, Boris Johnson said he would give deputies more time to approve his withdrawal agreement.
Parliament is automatically dissolved 25 working days before the general elections. Therefore, if a vote is held on December 12, parliamentarians will have until November 6 to examine the EU withdrawal bill.
The advantage for the government is that this scenario would also provide another chance for parliament to approve the deal, paving the way for Brexit to happen. Johnson has repeatedly called for "completing Brexit" and he could hold an election fulfilling his promise to secure the UK's exit from the EU.
That's why he prefers this option to a Liberal Democrat-SNP proposal for a December 9 vote (see below). An earlier date would mean the dissolution of parliament almost immediately, preventing parliamentarians from having the time to examine the legislation.
See More Information: Why does Boris Johnson want an election in December?
December 9: The date suggested by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP
Although the two dates are only three days apart, the difference with this proposal is that, with the 9 December elections, the EU withdrawal agreement would not have been ratified. The country would therefore be voting with the main issue of Brexit not yet resolved.
The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party (SNP) – both anti-Brexit – proposed the earlier date, which would be introduced as an amendment to the Fixed Term Parliament Act and would require only a simple majority.
The government – while defending its preferred option – does not rule out supporting the Lib Dem-SNP movement if its own plan for the December 12 elections is rejected.
The advantage for the anti-Brexit parties of the previous date is that, unlike Johnson's proposal, UK membership of the UK would definitely still be at stake. They could contest an election by offering the possibility that Brexit could be stopped.
A vote on December 9 may also allow time for parliament to restart this month. With an election on December 12, the process may have to wait until January – when the new Brexit deadline would increase pressure on lawmakers to approve the deal, or again face a possible exit without agreement.
Liberal Democrats pointed out that the date of the previous election gives students, registered to vote in their university cities, a chance to vote before leaving for Christmas holidays.
The Labor Party accused the Liberal Democrats and the SNP of "giving up" on a second referendum. Its policy is to seek an alternative agreement on Brexit that is subject to another public vote.
Good or bad weather?
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Labor Party does not want an election until a Brexit without agreement is dropped – although it was before the last extension was agreed.
Critics have argued, however, that this is impossible to achieve – as if the UK left the EU with an agreement, another "cliff" without agreement would emerge next year during crucial negotiations on future trade.
Another suggested reason for the positions of both major parties is that the conservatives in power are consistently ahead of the Labor Party in recent opinion polls.
Opponents of a general election at this stage at any given time argue that the crucial issue of Brexit should not be confused with other issues facing the country.
A pre-Christmas election would be risky for all parties: polling so close to the holidays could be unpopular with voters. In previous instant elections – called ahead of schedule – they also tended to punish ruling parties.
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