Published: Sat, March 23, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

EU leaders open to Brexit delay if May can push through deal

EU leaders open to Brexit delay if May can push through deal

Earlier she met the Westminster leaders of the Opposition parties, including the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

She told lawmakers that "Europe means the freedom to say, write about and believe in what you think is right", within the bloc's legal framework.

Time is tight, but there will be no decision on an extension in Brussels on Thursday, and May seemed to have done no favours to her efforts to persuade more MPs to back the withdrawal agreement on the eve of the summit, when she blamed them for the impasse.

"But we also have to prepare for the possibility of that not happening, and then we will decide what to do if that happens". "The referendum result must be respected and there must be no attempt to undermine the democratic will of the people".

But Number 10 defended her comments, saying they had been intended as a "message to the public" to explain why she had made a decision to seek an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process.

Such a vote would also be dependent on the MPs being permitted to hold a vote in the first place, since House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said on Monday parliamentary rules mean there can not be a debate and vote on the deal again after it was rejected for a second time on Tuesday last week, unless something has "substantially" changed.

"You are exhausted of the infighting, you're exhausted of the political games and the arcane procedural rows".

Exhausted of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, and knife crime.

May told voters tired of a Brexit saga that has dragged on for nearly three years: "You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with".

"I expect we will agree today to some date of extension, not necessarily June, could be May. In principal, we can meet this request if we have a positive vote in the British parliament next week about the exit document".

She said she is convinced that the modifications to the Irish backstop - a key stumbling block in the Brexit negotiations - hammered out in Strasbourg last week are "sufficient" on the part of the European Union to allow British Prime Minister Theresa May to move forward.

"I sincerely hope we leave with a negotiated deal".

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'But I'm not prepared to delay Brexit any further than June 30'.

"May is unable to deliver sufficient guarantees on the credibility of her strategy at the European Council meeting would lead to the request being refused and a preference for a no deal", he said.

A majority of British MPs have yet to signal their support for the deal.

He appeared to acknowledge the difficulties facing her, describing the hopes of success as "frail, even illusory".

Although people involved in the negotiations said Wednesday that there was little appetite to kick Britain out of the club against its will, they were increasingly fearful that further surprises in London could wind up with what one senior diplomat called "catastrophe".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also arrived for a meeting with the European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier this morning in what has been seen as a bid to seize control of Brexit. Mr Umunna said: 'I find it extraordinary behaviour in a national crisis'.

But Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said Mr Corbyn's refusal to attend on the grounds that Mr Umunna was not a proper party leader was a "strange way" to behave amid the Brexit deadlock.

Brexit uncertainty has dogged the British economy for almost three years and that uncertainty has only become more acute over the past few months.

"Some people, including the Prime Minister, seem willing to gamble the future cohesion and economic prosperity of the United Kingdom through a game of chicken, taking this right to the wire".

The embattled May also refused to rule out the possibility that Britain severs its 46-year relationship with the European Union next week with no new arrangements in place. People's jobs, opportunities and livelihoods are at stake.

Tory Remainer Sam Gyimah warned that a short extension increased the chance of a no-deal "by about 60 per cent", before accusing Mrs May of being "downright reckless".

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