Date created : 10/04/2019 – 23:28Latest update : 11/04/2019 – 01:14
European Union leaders agreed to extend the date by which Britain must withdraw from the European Union to October 31, officials said Wednesday, after UK Prime Minister Theresa May asked to delay Brexit to avoid crashing out without a deal.
Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24’s live coverage.
Donald Tusk, the European Council president, confirmed an extension had been agreed in a Tweet after an emergency summit in Brussels that stretched on long into the night.
He did not say what the new withdrawal date would be, but Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat and diplomatic sources said the UK had been offered an extension until October 31 with a review to take place in June.
The EU is now awaiting the UK’s response, Tusk said.
May had asked other EU leaders to agree to delay Britain’s exit – set for Friday – until June 30 while she pushes the UK Parliament to ratify a deal and pass the legislation needed for a smooth Brexit.
Some were sympathetic, but French President Emmanuel Macron had looked the most likely to hold out.
“Nothing is decided,” Macron said, insisting on “clarity” from May about what Britain wants.
“What’s indispensable is that nothing should compromise the European project in the months to come,” he said.
Macron had wanted to withhold any commitment to extend the deadline much beyond the European Parliament elections of May 23-26 unless May commits herself, and any potential successor, not to disrupt the workings of Brussels.
“Not everything is preferable to a no-deal. A no-deal situation is a real option,” a French presidency official said.
A Brexit delay beyond EU Parliament elections would force Britain to participate in the vote and elect representatives to the EU assembly – an option May wants to avoid but which now looks inevitable.
May made the case for the delay at a pre-dinner meeting in Brussels, saying she believes a June 30 deadline is enough time for Britain’s Parliament to agree a deal.
But British lawmakers have already rejected her EU divorce deal three times and also voted down eight alternatives to Brexit put forward by the House of Commons. Subsequent attempts to forge a compromise with her political opponents in the Labour Party have yet to bear fruit.
May spoke to the 27 other EU leaders for just over an hour before they met for dinner without her to decide Britain’s fate.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)
Nigel Farage’s 400km pro-Brexit march sets off from Sunderland to London
Kit Armstrong: From child prodigy to piano-playing superstar
McDonald’s: Tom Watson urges chain to drop Monopoly campaign
Music show: La Chica, Danger Mouse, Karen O and Foals
Christchurch shootings: Sajid Javid warns tech giants over footage
Study reveals the wolf within your pet dog
NHS let me down, says health manager with cancer
Looting, clashes as Yellow Vests seek new momentum