Donald Tusk: Brexit delay is 'possible' but 'conditional'

Theresa May’s request to extend Article 50 to June 30 has been deemed possible by Donald Tusk if Parliament sees a “positive vote” next week.

The European Council president has thrown May a lifeline saying if she can get MP’s to back her deal in the House of Commons next week, she will be granted an extension until June 30.

It comes after a leaked EU document obtained by Reuters reportedly stated Brussels would not entertain the prime minister’s extension and instead offer a very short or long extension.

But Tusk said the delay request “has merits” and suggested it would be discussed with leaders tomorrow.

“I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons,” he said, “and if there is a positive vote in the House of Commons next week, we can finalise and formalise the decision on extension in the written procedure.

He added: “However if there is such a need, I will not hesitate to invite the members of the EU Council for a meeting to Brussels next week”.

Now with so little time to make substantial changes to the deal – something the House’s speaker has intensely highlighted – it is unlikely MP’s will vote with May in a third meaningful vote unless she can gain a cross-party majority.

And having already conceded the biggest-ever parliamentary defeat on her bill in January, as well as losing by 149 last week, it seems May’s time is already up.

However, as stated by Tusk, we could still see May’s extension request turned down tomorrow by other leaders and then be forced to pick between a short extension to May 23 or a far longer delay – both unpalatable choices for the prime minister.

But with May saying in her letter to the EU that she is “not prepared” to delay Brexit any longer than June 30 and hinting at her resignation, it may soon be someone else who is to make that unwelcome decision.

 

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