EU's Tusk Wants to Offer Britain Another Year to Sort out Brexit

Saul Bowman
April 7, 2019

"A "no deal" Brexit has become 'almost inevitable" after United Kingdom lawmakers again failed to break the Brexit deadlock on Monday night (1 April), narrowly rejecting all four alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.

The EU has already agreed to move back the original March 29th deadline to April 12th to give May more time to win backing from MPs for a deal.

Downing Street released May's request moments after a senior EU official told AFP that Tusk was proposing to postpone Brexit day by up to a year, also pending parliament's approval of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

But she said it would be in the best interests of both sides for Britain not to take part.

The elections pose a substantial stumbling block because Britain would be expected to take part, if it is still an EU member, so its people have representation in the European Parliament. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, has confirmed that Brussels will not kick a member state. A source in the president's office said it would be premature to discuss an additional delay to Britain's exit without evidence to justify an extension.

Scenarios that run the gamut from abandoning the European Union abruptly with no exit deal to cancelling Brexit altogether have all gone down to defeat. "But it is an outcome for which I have made sure the European Union is ready". Party leader Corbyn has been hard to pin down on whether this would still be necessary if May agrees to a customs union.

The EU says it's prepared for no deal and has been talking up the prospects of such a scenario, but in private officials expect it to be avoided.

The complex manoeuvring on dates comes as Britain's Parliament considers legislation created to prevent such a "no-deal" departure. This would nullify any uncertainty over the House of Lords vote on Monday. "The argument has not been resolved in the chamber of the House of Commons". All 27 nations have to agree unanimously on an extension.

"The Government is determined to work constructively to deliver the Brexit people voted for, and avoid participation in the European parliamentary elections".

His offer comes as Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking another short extension to Britain's departure date, from April 12th to June 30th.

May said in her letter that Britain is reluctantly ready to begin preparations for the European elections if no Brexit deal is reached in the interim.

Theresa May's hopes of a Brexit compromise with Jeremy Corbyn are on the brink of collapse, after Labour accused the Prime Minister of refusing to change her deal.

The talks do not seem to be advancing.

A Labour spokesperson said in a statement that "we are disappointed that the government has not offered real change or compromise".

A flexi extension would give the British government sufficient time to agree on a deal while removing the need to remain in the European Union should a deal be agreed ahead of a Brexit extension deadline. But May's efforts to form a cross-party position with Corbyn, and pledge to hold votes in Parliament on the desired outcome, will probably be enough.

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