First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed her relief that the UK has not crashed out of the EU, urging the UK government not to waste time after a flexible extension was granted. 

Taking to social media, the SNP leader said it was "a relief" that the UK would not be "crashing out" of the EU without a deal on Friday.

READ MORE: Theresa May is given six-month extension from EU on Brexit 

She wrote: "It is a relief that - thanks to the patience of the EU - we will not be crashing out tomorrow. But the UK must not waste this time - allowing people to decide if they still want to leave is now imperative. And Scotland’s interests must be protected."

Following the confirmation of the extension, SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins welcomed the delay and urged the Prime Minister to use it to hold a fresh EU referendum with the option of Remain on the ballot paper.

He said: "This is a watershed moment in the Brexit process. With the EU agreeing to a further extension to Article 50, Theresa May must use this time to hold a fresh EU referendum with the option to Remain on the ballot paper."

It has been confirmed that the Scottish Parliament will not be recalled after EU leaders agreed to a second extension to the Brexit process, Holyrood's presiding officer has confirmed.


Scotland's Brexit Minister Michael Russell also expressed his relief and called for Scotland to do all it could to stay in the EU. He tweeted: "204 days is plenty of time for lots of things - including a referendum & revocation. But the biggest message from tonight should be drawn from the utter powerlessness of a Brexiting UK. Time for Scotland to be in the room shaping decisions, not outside the door."

European Council president Donald Tusk said the UK could still ratify the withdrawal agreement or choose to "cancel Brexit altogether".

READ MORE: SNP demand second EU referendum after Brexit delay 

He added: "Let me finish with a message to our British friends: This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time."

A review of progress on Brexit set for June will involve the EU "taking stock" and is "not another cliff edge", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

A document of the conclusions from the European Council after their special meeting to discuss Article 50 said: "The European Council underlines that the extension cannot be allowed to undermine the regular functioning of the Union and its institutions.

"If the UK is still a Member of the EU on 23-26 May 2019 and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, it must hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law.

"If the United Kingdom fails to live up to this obligation, the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019."

Mr Juncker added: "We will have a Brexit with a deal. I would have preferred a deal without Brexit."

Asked if Brexit could be extended again, Mr Tusk said: "Our intention is to finalise the whole process in October.

READ MORE: Brexit: How politicians reacted to 6-month extension 

"The political intention was clear among the member states; that our wish and our hope is that the UK will be ready with the final solution."

Last night, Theresa May expressed her frustration that Brexit had not been delivered.

She said she hoped to leave the EU before the 31 October if MPs passed her deal saying: "I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension.

"The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade parliament to approve a deal."

She added: "I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

"Nothing is more pressing or more vital."