Theresa May Asks EU To Delay Brexit Until June

Saul Bowman
March 23, 2019

With just nine days to go before the March 29 exit date, uncertainty surrounds Brexit with options including leaving with British Prime Minister Theresa May's deal, a short or longer delay, a disruptive exit or another referendum.

Mr Macron said a "no" vote in the UK Parliament for Mrs May's Brexit plan would "directly guide everybody to a no deal, for sure".

BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming said Theresa May spoke to European Union leaders for 90 minutes and was asked several times what her contingency plans were if she lost the third "meaningful vote" on her deal in Parliament.

"We can not pretend after three years that the British people did not vote to leave".

Businesses and economists say a no-deal Brexit would cause huge disruptions to the economies of both Britain and the EU.

Mrs May had warned Brexiteer Tories that a longer extension would be needed if her deal does not get through Parliament.

But a European Commission document seen by Reuters said the delay should either be several weeks shorter, to avoid a clash with European elections in May, or extend at least until the end of the year, which would oblige Britain to take part in the elections. May says they face a "final choice" between her deal, a no-deal departure that could hammer the economy, and cancelling Brexit. "You are tired of the infighting, tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, knife crime", she said.

European Union leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the Article 50 process, postponing Brexit beyond 29 March.

Before May traveled to make her case in person at Thursday's EU meeting, she made her request in a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.

"Her speech was incendiary and irresponsible", said Labour MP Wes Streeting.

And she put the spotlight back on MPs as she arrived in Brussels, saying: "What is important is that Parliament delivers on the result of the referendum and that we deliver Brexit for the British people".

"I believe a short extension will be possible but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons", Tusk told reporters, a day before leaders were to gather in Brussels for a crucial summit.

The i reported on Thursday that May has been told by 30 Tory MPs that they will only support her deal if she agrees to resign.

He said he feared his hopes for an orderly Brexit agreement with the agreed plan in place to prevent economic and political chaos may prove "frail, even illusory".

In a letter starting "Dear Donald.", May said that the United Kingdom was seeking "an June 30".

The loss of Britain for the EU is the biggest blow yet to more than 60 years of effort to forge European unity after two world wars, though the 27 other members of the bloc have shown surprising unity during the tortuous negotiations.

May has spent two and a half years trying to lead Britain out of the EU.

But a shift to "soft Brexit" would infuriate the pro-Brexit wing of May's divided party, and a long delay would require Britain to participate in May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has ruled that the government cannot bring forward proposals for a vote that are substantially the same as those already defeated twice before, but this is not ultimately expected to prevent a third vote if lawmakers want one to happen.

The government could seek to hold a third "meaningful vote" on the withdrawal agreement next week.

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