Brexit summit: European Union expected to grant United Kingdom extension with strings attached

Mae Love
April 10, 2019

He said the United Kingdom could still leave before that date if it got an agreement through Parliament in time and that ministers were committed to leaving at the "earliest opportunity".

European Union leaders want to know she has a plan to break the U.K.'s political impasse, but talks between the government and its political opponents over a compromise have yet to bear fruit.

The British government will have to agree to losing its commissioner but it is unlikely the prime minister would put up a fight when she is presented with the terms of an extension.

Media in London reported on Tuesday that European Council President Donald Tusk has written to all 27 EU member state leaders urging them to offer Britain a flexible extension to the article 50 process of up to one year.

He said there was "little reason to believe" a Brexit deal would be approved by the extension deadline that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has requested - 30 June, the BBC reported.

Mrs May's failure, by historic margins, to persuade MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement she spent those two years working on meant that in order to avoid a "no deal" exit, she had to ask the EU27 to grant an Article 50 extension.

The suggestions last night were that the EU27 is open to granting the extension, but only if she is able to persuade them that she has a credible, workable plan to finally get the Withdrawal Agreement supported by Parliament.

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The U.K.'s request for an extension comes after a prolonged period of disarray in British politics over Brexit with "Brexiteers" and "Remainers" still sorely divided over the departure.

On Tuesday, Mrs May staged a whistle-stop tour of European capitals for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to prepare the ground for another potentially hard meeting in Brussels.

May's charm offensive appeared to bear fruit with an official in Macron's office saying that France was ready to accept a new delay.

May is hoping the extra time, if granted, will enable her to finally get a divorce deal through parliament. And guarantees that Britain would not be involved in future European Union decisions while its Brexit drama is playing out.

Discussions in Brussels are to focus on the length of the delay - the French source said a 12-month extension "seems too long" - and arrangements to limit Britain's influence within the EU.

"We will continue to meet at 27 on all of these issues, the European Union treaties do not prevent us from doing that", they said. Several days of talks between May's Conservative government and the main opposition Labour Party aimed at finding a compromise Brexit deal have failed to produce a breakthrough. "It is Parliament that has forced this on the Government".

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