Brexit Brief: May requests delay to June 30

BY JOSEPHINE KUUBAIBONG - Apr 05, 2019 at 12:14pm 100

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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has written to the European Union requesting a further delay to Brexit until June 30, while she struggles to find a cross-party resolution to parliament’s deadlock.

In her letter to the Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, May officially asked for an extension that will delay the U.K.’s exit beyond April 12 to June 30, but also requested a “termination clause”, according to the Daily Mail.

This clause would allow the U.K. to leave before the European elections, on May 22, if a deal can be approved by parliament by then. However, unless the new date is signed off by the 27 EU member states at an emergency EU summit next Wednesday, Britain is set to leave the EU on April 12 without a deal.

May’s extension request differs from the yearlong flexible extension to Article 50 suggested by Tusk on Thursday, which he described as “the only reasonable way out”. Tusk was due to tell leaders at a summit on Wednesday that the “flextension” would avoid them having to consider extra delays every few weeks.

May’s letter to Tusk comes a day after the second session of cross-party talks with the opposition Labour Party broke down without an agreement. Although initial negotiations between May and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday were described as “constructive”, optimism faded as both sides struggled to agree upon a Brexit Plan B.

On Friday, May’s letter acknowledged that both parties have accepted the need to pass a legally binding withdrawal agreement, but are yet to reach a joint consensus on what this relationship will look like, the Guardian reported.

The short extension request is likely to frustrate anti-Brexit cabinet ministers who have urged her to seek a longer delay. However, May would have faced a backlash from leavers if she had requested a longer period, after a week of plotting from pro-Brexit ministers seeking to prevent her from agreeing to a year’s extension, according to the Times.

“I’d like to make sure we get out in April or May. We have that opportunity to do that, we have a deal that is there—I very much hope that is something that can be looked at and passed,” said Gavin Williamson, the Brexit-backing U.K. defense secretary.

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