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The EU agrees to delay Brexit until January 2020

The EU has agreed to delay Brexit until at least January 2020 after Boris Johnson was forced reluctantly to seek an extension.

Ambassadors from EU member states agreed unanimously to the UK's request to extend Article 50 until January 2020 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. The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure.," said Donald Tusk, the European Council president, on Twitter.

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 leaves with 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 not able to ratify his deal in parliament by October 19. The move was designed to ensure Johnson was unable to force a no-deal Brexit on October 31 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.

Focus will now turn to whether MPs approve Johnson's request for a general election on Monday evening. The vote, to be made under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, would require a two-thirds Commons majority of 434 MPs, looks likely to fail because Labour has not backed it.