Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

EU's Tusk Wants to Offer Britain Another Year to Sort out Brexit

EU's Tusk Wants to Offer Britain Another Year to Sort out Brexit

June 30 is as tricky as it was two weeks ago because of the sensitivities around the European Parliament elections.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday again sought to delay Brexit until June 30 to avoid a chaotic withdrawal from the European Union in one week, although a key leader of the bloc suggested an even longer pause in the hard divorce proceedings.

Downing Street has insisted it is prepared to pursue alterations to its Brexit deal and is ready to hold further talks with Labour this weekend.

He said the government had no red lines in the talks.

France considers it "premature" to discuss an additional delay to Britain's exit from the European Union, demanding that London present "a clear plan" that would justify pushing Brexit back again, a French presidency source said Friday.

With time running out, it was not clear how Britain would avoid the abrupt "no-deal" departure that business leaders in Britain and also neighbouring Ireland say would cause huge disruption.

If Britain stays for another year, it would have to take part in European Parliament elections set for late next month.

Mrs May has plainly concluded that her ill-advised alliance with the DUP has long since run its course and that basic parliamentary arithmetic pushes her towards an understanding with Labour if she is ever to finalise a viable withdrawal agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron has thus far seemed cagey about giving Britain more time, saying the bloc can not be held hostage by Britain's political deadlock over Brexit. Any extensions have to be agreed by all 27 member states of the EU.

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Deep divisions in May's Conservative Party and government, and in Labour, have led to a marathon of votes in parliament, in which scenarios ranging from abandoning the European Union with no transition period to cancelling Brexit have all been defeated.

May's team is now negotiating with leaders from the main opposition Labour Party in a bid to find a compromise that can pass parliament in the coming days.

It is certainly possible that the two sides could reach a consensus on a plan which would allow the United Kingdom to stay in a customs union, with intriguing hints that even the DUP could live with such an outcome.

The Labour Party accused May's government of failing to offer "real change or compromise" during the third round of talks to end the current Brexit deadlock.

But Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer contradicted the claim.

The government was "prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides", he added.

"We want the talks to continue and we've written in those terms to the government, but we do need change if we're going to compromise", the shadow Brexit secretary added.

Most politicians, economists and business groups think that leaving the world's largest trading bloc without an agreement would be damaging for the European Union and disastrous for the U.K. It could lead to tariffs on trade between Britain and the European Union, as well as customs checks that could cause gridlock at ports and shortages of essential goods.

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