BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit at an emergency summit on Wednesday but the blocs leaders are likely to demand she accepts a longer extension with conditions.
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Brexit, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
In a sign of just how far the Brexit crisis has sapped British power, May dashed to Berlin and Paris on the eve of the summit to ask Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to allow her to put off the departure date to June 30 from April 12
But in Brussels, a “flextension” until the end of the year or until March 2020 was shaping up to be the most likely option, EU diplomats said. Such an option would allow Britain to leave earlier if the Brexit deadlock in London could be broken.
While it was not immediately clear what Merkel and Macron, Europes two most powerful leaders, agreed with May, an advance draft of conclusions for Wednesdays emergency EU summit said Britain would be granted another delay on certain conditions.
“The United Kingdom shall facilitate the achievement of the Unions tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Unions objectives,” read the draft seen by Reuters.
As a full member state of the EU, Britain could in theory exercise a veto on any major policy decision.
The draft left the end-date blank pending a decision by the other 27 national leaders on Wednesday evening in Brussels.
“In my view, a short extension would not bring much,” said Detlef Seif, deputy EU spokesman for Merkels parliamentary group. “There is no appetite to return to a new European Council every six weeks to decide whether to renew the extension.”
In European capitals there was weariness and exasperation with Britains tortuous Brexit divorce after 46 years of membership.
“People are tired and fed up (with Britains indecision) – but what to do?” one EU diplomat said. “We wont be the ones pushing the UK off the cliff edge.”
Another EU official involved with Brexit said no European power wanted the chaos that they fear a “no-deal” exit would sow through financial markets and the EU 27s $16 trillion economy.
Nearly two weeks after Britain was originally supposed to leave the EU, May, the weakest British prime minister in a generation, has said she fears Brexit might never happen as she battles to get a divorce deal ratified by a divided parliament.
After her pledge to resign failed to get her deal over the line, she launched crisis talks with the opposition Labour Party in the hope of breaking the domestic deadlock.
But when she arrives in Brussels, May will is unlikely to be able to Read More