Published: Tue, April 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Theresa May to ask Merkel and Macron for Brexit delay

Theresa May to ask Merkel and Macron for Brexit delay

Her huddles with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and President Emmanuel Macron in Paris come on the eve of another tension-packed summit in Brussels focused on the fate of the 46-year-old partnership.

While May travels to Berlin and Paris ahead of an emergency European Union summit in Brussels on Wednesday, British lawmakers will hold a 90-minute debate on her proposal to delay Britain's European Union departure date to June 30 from April 12.

There are serious concerns that the prime minister's deal with Mr Corbyn will hinge on the United Kingdom remaining in a customs union with the EU, which would go against the Conservative election manifesto and was one of Mrs May's infamous "red lines" in negotiations with Brussels.

Since then May has held talks with the Labour party in a bid to find a compromise solution that can win a majority in parliament.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said European Union leaders would need assurances of "sincere co-operation" from London before granting an extension.

The government will instead present a plan to parliament Tuesday to outline how long it intends to delay Brexit.

The cross-party move brought forward by Yvette Cooper and others led to Mrs May tabling a Commons motion for debate on Tuesday setting June 30 as the extension date.

But Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said a no-deal Brexit was still possible - even though it would represent "an extraordinary failure of politics".

"And then comes the question of the conditions of what role we'd want the United Kingdom to play during this extension time", she added.

Without an extension, Britain is due to leave the European Union at 2200 GMT on Friday, without a deal to cushion the economic shock.

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But in a video-message on Sunday, she said: "The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the United Kingdom never leaving at all".

The PM will hold talks with the German Chancellor and French President later, four days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU.

The default position for Britain, if parliament can't agree to a withdrawal agreement, is a no-deal Brexit. "The prime minister's deal ... has a lot of the very positive attributes that anyone would want in a relationship where we can trade freely with the European Union".

If Britain's exit is delayed beyond May 22, the EU has said it will have to take part in European Parliament elections.

If no compromise can be reached between the parties, Mrs May has committed to putting a series of Brexit options to the Commons and being bound by the result.

However, Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said they had not found a consensus in their discussions so far.

'We might also have to give the British side time so they can finally be clear about what they actually want.

"All they have done so far is to indicate various things but not to change the Political Declaration, so the ball is in the Government's court".

In a further sign of the constraints on Mrs May, Brexiteer Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt warned that a long delay to Brexit would be unacceptable to the public and businesses which were already "having to prepare for a whole raft of eventualities". In Dublin, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar expressed optimism about the cross-party process as he met with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

United Kingdom lawmakers finally approved a Brexit bill late Monday after weeks of failing to reach agreement on May's proposals or on any of the alternative models for leaving the EU.

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