British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in Brussels on 21 March to push her one-off request for a three-month extension for the Brexit date, which would extend well past the European parliamentary elections that are scheduled for late May.
The leaders of the EU-27, who were gathering in Brussels to discuss May’s request, showed little appetite for granting an extension to embattled UK prime minister, particularly when she incapable of providing a guarantee that a third meaningful vote in the British Parliament would result in the Withdrawal Agreement finally being approved by the United Kingdom’s lawmakers.
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a hard line with London, saying that another failure by the Commons to ratify the deal would mean that the UK would crash out of the bloc.
“I’m not here to comment on any other political system, I’m just here to say that we do respect the vote of British people. We do respect what the prime minister and the parliament are doing, but we have to be clear. We can discuss and agree on an extension if this is a technical extension in case of a yes vote on the agreement that we negotiated for two years. In case of a no vote, it will guide everybody towards a ‘no-deal’ (Brexit), for sure. This is it. I have no other comment at this stage,” said Macron, before adding, “France is ready for this scenario.”
Macron also suggested that any delay to the process must be “technical” and that the current situation cannot be extended until the end of the year.
Juncker ready for another Brexit Summit next week
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is hoping for another summit with May sometime in the next week. For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to keep pushing for an orderly Brexit, adding that there’s still hope that May’s deal could be approved in the coming days.
May hopes still clinging to hope for an extension
May arrived in Brussels hoping to garner some support from her EU counterparts and with a deal that the Commons would finally support.
“What is important is that parliament delivers on the result of the referendum and that we deliver Brexit for the British people. I sincerely hope that we can do that with a deal. I’m still working on ensuring that parliament can agree to a deal so that we can leave in an orderly way. What matters is that we deliver on the vote of the British people.” According to May, “we are nearly three years on from the original vote. It is now the time for Parliament to decide.”
Waiting for Godot
“I sometimes have the feeling that we are in a waiting room, a bit like waiting for Godot,” Bettel told journalists in Brussels. “But Godot never came. So I hope that this time he will come,” said Xavier Bettel the prime minister of Luxemburg, in reference to Samuel Beckett‘s literary classic “Waiting for Godot”.
‘No-deal’ would be a British choice
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar commented that the bloc wants to avoid a “rolling off a cliff-edge” scenario, adding, “Everyone wants to avoid a no-deal, but we can’t have a situation whereby we have a rolling cliff-edge, where we just put off decisions and deadlines every couple of months.”
“Brexit was never going to be clean. Brexit would always require some very hard choices for the United Kingdom to make,” said Varadkar. “It was never going to be all good and no bad. And those decisions now need to be made. We do need to see a resolution, I think sooner rather than later. I don’t think this can drag on for months and years.”
“No-deal can only ever be a British choice,” said the Irish premier, adding that
The 29 March deadline was set by the UK, Varadkar reiterated. “It was always up to them, even at the last moment, to unilaterally revoke article 50. They do not need permission to do that. If a ‘no-deal’ happens, it will be a British choice and a British decision.”
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