EU leaders debate Theresa May’s request of Article 50 extension

Theresa May spoke for an hour at tonight’s EU summit, pledging her request of postponing the UK’s exit date beyond this Friday to 30 June.

The 27 EU leaders who are discussing her request for a short delay to Brexit, are expected to offer a longer delay, with conditions.

Earlier, Mrs May said she ‘regrets’ that the UK has not already left, adding that she had ‘been clear’ with the EU that she is only seeking a short delay to Brexit.

In a letter to EU leaders prior to the summit, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council proposed a longer extension than the one requested by May and said: “One possibly would be a flexible extension, which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year”. 

Every EU member state needs to agree before a delay can be granted.

However, France and Germany are understood to be in disagreement over both the length of the extension and the conditions that the EU should put on a delay to Brexit.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is arguing that a short extension is unlikely to provide enough time for the impasse in Westminster to be broken, and Berlin is seeking an extension until 31stDecember.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is understood to be looking at a very short extension, possibly up until immediately before the European elections, sources have said. There could be a further extension if the UK signs up to stringent conditions, Macron has said.

Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minster, was more reflective than most of the other EU leaders he said the “vast majority” of people in the EU were sympathetic to Britain’s plight and he wanted to see the UK in a customs union with the EU, and that the EU should agree to let the UK have a say when it negotiates trade deals.

 

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