Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

European Union leaders agree to Brexit delay plan

European Union leaders agree to Brexit delay plan

European leaders piled the pressure on British MPs on Thursday to back a divorce deal they have negotiated with Prime Minister Theresa May, warning that the alternative was a cliff-edge exit from the EU next week.

Supporters wrote on Twitter that the petition showed the strength of feeling against May's strategy while backers of Brexit said it needed to attract more signatures than the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union three years ago before anyone should take any notice.

A conference dinner to discuss relations with China was taken over by debate on the UK's exit. After grilling the Prime Minister for an hour and a half, European Union leaders ripped up their draft proposals and began five hours of private talks.

Mrs May's chances hang in the balance, with positions hardening after a chaotic week when the Parliament's speaker questioned whether she could even bring her deal to a third vote.

Warning Remainers that "a People's Vote may not happen", the petition counted 521,000 signatures this morning after 200,000 people signed it overnight to take it past the half a million mark.

Theresa May sat next to the Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini during the European Leaders' summit in Brussels.

Andrea Leadsom, the Commons Leader who is a potential candidate to be Theresa May's successor, said the online petition can not be compared with the support for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

"I think it's really extraordinary behaviour for the Leader of the Opposition to behave in really this kind of very juvenile way when the moment demands that we all step up and engage in some serious dialogue to find our way through this chaos and this mess". I am working on ensuring that Parliament can agree a deal so that we can leave in an orderly way.

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The 27 have shown remarkable unity on Brexit since Britons voted three years ago to leave.

The whole Brexit mess is because we have a hung parliament. "We need to deliver on that". "It is now time for Parliament to decide".

An online petition asking the British government to revoke Brexit briefly crashed on Thursday after a surge in support saw it garner more than 600,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Asked at the press conference how long the "long extension" eventually on offer to the United Kingdom could be, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker replied: "Until the very end".

A petition calling for the Government to revoke Article 50 has had the highest volume of sign-ups on record, according to Parliament's official Petitions Committee.

A notice on Parliament's petitions site.

There were signs of further division within the Conservative Party, with reports that Chief Whip Julian Smith told MPs that he thought the Prime Minister's statement was "appalling".

The Ministry of Defence announced yesterday it had activated a nuclear bunker beneath Whitehall to act as the co-ordination centre for 3,500 military staff on standby for a no-deal Brexit.

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