Britain facing long Brexit delay as stalemate puts divorce in doubt

April FrancisApr 05, 2019

The British premier s sudden change of tack was received with caution by EU leaders who wish to see the split resolved before the European Parliament elections begin on May 23.

"By potentially taking the date of extension out of May's negotiating hand, it adds an extra layer of complexity to the ongoing Brexit negotiations as she will have to secure approval from both European Union officials and British lawmakers", said Thu Lan Nguyen, a currencies analyst at Commerzbank.

Stefan Auer, associate professor in European Studies at The University of Hong Kong, said he is "sceptical" of Theresa May's call for another short extension to Brexit in order to prevent no deal on April 12.

The Labour leader is coming under pressure from senior colleagues to make a referendum a condition of signing up to any agreement.

Many Eurosceptic Tories would rather the prime minister took the European Union without a deal on April 12, when the United Kingdom is set to leave by law.

May said late on Tuesday that she planned to ask Brussels for a further Brexit extension as she tries to avoid a no-deal outcome.

The PM wrote to all Conservative MPs on Wednesday morning explaining her decision, blaming the failure of the Democratic Unionist party and leave-supporting backbenchers to support her deal.

Earlier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated the EU's position that Britain should get a Brexit deadline extension to May 22 if May can persuade lawmakers to approve her withdrawal agreement, which has already been rejected three times, in the next few days.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that if Britain's politicians could not agree on a way forward, "they will de facto have chosen for themselves to leave without a deal".

"This debate, this division, can not drag on much longer", May said in a televised statement from 10 Downing St. after an all-day Cabinet meeting.

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At Labour's conference you sent a message to the Prime Minister saying: "If you deliver a deal that includes a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, if you protect jobs, people's rights at work and environmental and consumer standards - then we will support that sensible deal".

The divorce was due to have taken place March 29, but Parliament thrice refused to agree to the terms that May spent two years negotiating with the bloc, and has failed to come up with an alternative plan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to visit Dublin on Thursday to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for talks on Brexit.

The Brexit vote exposed deep fractures in British society, though the crisis it triggered has also shown a political system in dire need of reform.

A number of Conservative backbenchers also attempted to hold an unofficial vote of no confidence in their party leader on Wednesday, but were blocked by party authorities.

Corbyn said Wednesday's discussions had been "useful but inconclusive".

Any new proposal would have to accept the Withdrawal Agreement and focus on amendments to the Political Declaration on the future EU/UK relationship, she said.

Britain could one day review its membership of a possible post-Brexit customs union with the European Union, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told the BBC.

The issue of a second public vote rose to the surface after a Labour spokesman said the party would only back such a move to avoid a "Tory Brexit" or no deal. It also restrict the Prime Minister's discretion about whether and when to seek and Article 50 extension.

May received a boost when a move by some lawmakers to take control of business in the House of Commons for a third round of votes on Brexit options was blocked.

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