Theresa May in Brussels to plead for further Brexit extension

Written by Martin Banks on 10 April 2019 in News

EU leaders will meet Theresa May in Brussels later on Wednesday to decide whether to allow an additional delay to Brexit.

Photo credit: PA

It comes after May travelled to Berlin and Paris on Tuesday in an effort to win support for her demand for a further extension to the UK’s EU departure date.

The British Prime Minister wants to postpone Brexit until the end of June.

However, ahead of the summit, European council president Donald Tusk issued a statement to EU leaders saying he preferred offering May a longer extension, possibly until the end of the year.


The statement read, “Last week I received a letter from Prime Minister May requesting a further extension of the Article 50 period, until 30 June.

“In her letter the Prime Minister states that the UK government's policy remains to leave the EU in an orderly way, and that it is therefore now seeking a consensus across the Commons on the right way forward. She also adds that, if the UK were an EU member on 23 May it would be under a legal obligation to hold elections to the European Parliament."

Tusk said that "Given the risks posed by a no-deal Brexit for people and businesses on both sides of the English Channel, I trust that we will continue to do our utmost to avoid this scenario. Therefore I propose that we consider Prime Minister May's request for an extension at our meeting.”

However, with EU leaders voicing misgivings over May’s ability to deliver any form of approved withdrawal deal in the near future and with concerns that Brexit is consuming too much of the EU’s political energy, Tusk added, “Our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June.

“Our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June” Donald Tusk,  President of the European Council

“In reality, granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates.

“This, in turn, would almost certainly overshadow the business of the EU27 in the months ahead. The continued uncertainty would also be bad for our businesses and citizens. 

"Finally, if we failed to agree on any next extension, there would be a risk of an accidental no-deal Brexit.

"This" he goes on, "is why I believe we should also discuss an alternative, longer extension."

The letter reads, "One possibility would be a flexible extension, which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year, as beyond that date we will need to decide unanimously on some key European projects. The flexibility would allow to terminate the extension automatically, as soon as both sides have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Tusk adds, “The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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