-Late departure to be further delayed
A week shy of the U.K.’s delayed April 12 departure from the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May last Friday requested that the EU give the U.K. a further extension until June 30.
May’s letter came amid reports that European Council President Donald Tusk will offer Britain a “flexible” extension until the end of 2019 with an option to leave earlier if the withdrawal agreement is ratified.
May said in a letter to Tusk that the U.K. “government’s policy has always been and remains to leave the EU in an orderly way and without undue delay.”
Underlining that the House of Commons has so far failed to approve the withdrawal deal reached with the EU, May said “this impasse cannot be allowed to continue,” adding that she is holding talks with the opposition leader on a Brexit strategy.
May said in her letter that the U.K. will push for ratification to make May 23 a possible departure date, but if this is not possible, it will make the necessary preparations to take part in the upcoming European Parliament elections, set to begin on the same day on May 23.
The U.K.’s leave date was delayed further from the original March 29 deadline to April 12, but the House of Commons has yet to agree on the withdrawal agreement reached with the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke last Thursday of the possibility of striking a Brexit deal with the U.K.
“Where there is a will there is a way,” Merkel said, speaking at a news conference in Dublin during a visit to the Irish capital.
Merkel added that she would work “until the very last hour” to prevent a no-deal scenario, which would be problematic for all parties concerned. However, she said a new proposal from May is required for a way forward if the U.K. is to be granted a further extension to article 50 -- a process that the U.K. or any EU member has to invoke to start divorce talks with the EU.
The outcome of the talks between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and May could be key to breaking the ongoing impasse.