British PM Theresa May asks EU to delay Brexit until June 30 | News | DW | 05.04.2019
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British PM Theresa May asks EU to delay Brexit until June 30

Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for another Brexit delay, this time until the end of June. She added that in light of the delay, the UK will prepare to hold European Parliament elections.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the European Union to delay the date of the UK's divorce from the bloc until June 30, according to a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk that was sent on Friday.

May has already secured one Brexit delay — currently slated for April 12 — to buy time to gain support for her Withdrawal Agreement, which British lawmakers have now rejected three times.

What May wrote in her letter to the EU:

  • Asking to push back the extension until June 30.
  • The Brexit delay could end earlier if the House of Commons agrees to her Brexit deal before that date.
  • The UK will prepare to hold European Parliament elections if it is unable to exit the bloc before May 23.
  • "The government agrees that leaving with a deal is the best outcome."

Read more: Brexit: Small English island reflects UK's island mentality

EU reportedly mulling longer delay

The news of May's request on Friday followed reports that Tusk was considering proposing a much longer, but flexible 12-month Brexit extension. Senior officials said that the longer delay would still allow the UK to leave on July 1 if Parliament ratifies the Brexit deal by then.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the situation remains "difficult," adding that "there are many questions that London must clarify."

French President Emmanuel Macron's office said that it was "premature" to consider another delay. Macron previously said a clear plan would need to be in place in order to approve an extension.

But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar noted that a longer extension could work out for the better, saying: "None of us want no deal next week but we also want to avoid rolling extensions because that just adds to the uncertainty so perhaps a longer extension might make more sense."

EU leaders hoped for a resolution by mid-April, saying that this was the latest point when the UK could start the process of holding European Parliament elections between May 23 and May 26. Should the UK remain in the EU beyond the end of June, participating in the vote would be necessary under the terms of EU treaties.

Read more: No-deal Brexit means higher EU bills for Germany, says Oettinger

In talks with Labour

May has been holding talks with Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the opposition, in an attempt to find a compromise deal for leaving the EU and break the Brexit deadlock. It's unclear, however, if the two sides will be able to work out an agreement in the coming days.

May's Brexit deal, which was agreed with the EU after over two years of negotiations, has been rejected by British lawmakers three times, leading to the current political impasse. After receiving considerable pushback from within her own party over the deal, she reached out to opposition lawmakers in order to garner enough votes to pass it in a fourth vote.

Where Brexit stands right now

The UK was originally supposed to leave the bloc on March 29, but concerns that the UK could crash out without a deal prompted EU leaders to extend the divorce date until April 12. If British lawmakers do not approve the Brexit deal by next Thursday, they face either requesting a longer extension or crashing out without a deal.

On Wednesday, British lawmakers voted to reject leaving without a deal on April 12 — prompting May to ask for a longer delay. In recent votes, lawmakers also rejected all alternative Brexit options in a series of so-called "indicative votes."

What happens next: EU leaders are due to meet for a summit in Brussels on Wednesday where they will discuss whether or not to grant May's extension or to perhaps offer the UK a longer one. Any additional extension would require unanimous approval from the leaders of the remaining 27 EU member states.

Watch video 00:34

Macron: 'A long extension is neither clear nor automatic'

rs/jil (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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