European Council President Donald Tusk indicated that Brussels would be open to the idea of extending the Brexit date to beyond 29 March if the United Kingdom provided a guarantee that the twice-defeated Withdrawal Agreement drawn up by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May late last year gets passed.
May officially requested from Tusk to postpone the withdrawal date from 29 March to 30 June. The request will have to be unanimously approved by the EU-27 leaders, who are expected to listen to May’s proposals and then decide whether they will grant an extension requested.
“At this time I do not foresee an extraordinary European Council. If you were to approve my recommendations. If there was a positive vote in the House of Commons next week, we could finalise and formalise the decision on the extension using a written procedure,” said Tusk. “Even if the hope for final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking – until the very last moment – a positive solution.”
EU leaders are ready to give the United Kingdom a “short extension” of the pre-departure period if British MPs follow through on passing a deal that would be the basis of the post-Brexit relationship between London and Brussels.
“In light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days, I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons,” said tusk, adding, “The question remains open as to the duration of such an extension. Prime Minister May’s proposal of (a) 30 June (extension), which has its merits, creates a series of questions of a legal and political nature. The leaders will discuss this tomorrow”.
Tusk also hinted that the approval of the recent Strasbourg agreement that Juncker and May discussed last week “is possible” as it “does not create risks, especially if it were to help the ratification process in the UK”.
In a last-ditch effort to salvage the withdrawal agreement, May rushed to Strasbourg on 11 May where she and Juncker on a package of legally binding agreements regarding the status of the Irish border.
May: I do not want a long extension
Brexit is supposed theoretically take place on 29 March, but May has failed to get the divorce agreement passed in the House of Commons, Prior to seeing her post-Brexit deal defeated twice in less than two months, May had long excluded the idea of a postponement,
She’s blamed the House of Commons “who rejected the agreement for the second time on 12 March” and on the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, who refused to hold a new vote on the same text this week.
“I do not want a long delay,” she said, pointing out that it would lead to the United Kingdom’s “unacceptable” participation in the 23-26 May European elections. She also ruled out a general election or another referendum, stressing that the British want to implement their June 2016 vote to leave the EU.
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