May Asks for Brexit Delay till June 30, Brussels Already Resists over EU Elections
A leaked EC document says the Brexit extension should be either by the May 23-26 EU elections, or at least by the end of 2019.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed she has written European Council President Donald Tusk the long-anticipated letter to request a Brexit delay until June 30, 2019, but reports say the European Commission opposes an extension beyond the EU elections of May 23-26.
“As prime minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June,” May told a rowdy session of parliament.
“I have therefore this morning written to President Tusk, the president of the European Council, informing him that the UK seeks an extension to the Article 50 period until the 30th June,” she said.
Upon announcing her 3-month extension request on Brexit, the UK leader also declared Britain remained committed to leaving the European Union “in an orderly manner”.
In a speech in the British House of Commons, May confirmed an earlier announcement by her office that she would not be seeking a long Brexit delay “frustrated” by the Parliament’s inability to take a definitive decision on the process of exiting the European Union.
Last week the British MPs rejected the amended withdrawal deal May had negotiated with the EU but also voted in favor of ruling out a no-deal Brexit, and in favor of extending the process and thus delaying Brexit.
May had been hoping to get a third vote on her Brexit deal with the EU but House of Commons Speaker John Bercow unexpectedly intervened to prevent that arguing that the motion was “substantially the same” as the one rejected days ago.
In her speech on Wedneday, May said she was going to ask the British Parliament for a third vote on the Brexit deal but did not specify when such a vote might take place.
She did emphasize, however, that a delay of Brexit still meant the UK might depart from the Union without a withdrawal deal.
May is heading to Brussels on Thursday for the two-day summit of the European Council where she is to discuss the Brexit delay with the EU 27 leaders.
At the same time, however, the European Commission, the EU executive body, already appears to be resisting the British request for a Brexit extension until June 30, 2019, because of a clash with the European Parliament elections set for May 23 – 26.
According to an EC document seen by Reuters, the extension should either end well ahead of the EU elections, making it several weeks shorter, or it should run at least until the end of 2019, thus obliging the UK to participate in the 2019 European Parliament elections.
“Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until 23 May 2019 or should be significantly longer and require European elections,” the EU document said.
“This is the only way of protecting the functioning of the EU institutions and their ability to take decisions,” it read further.
The document also said the EU should grant the UK only one extension because multiple delays would create large-scale uncertainty for the Union.
An EU spokeswoman said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned May against requesting a Brexit delay beyond the dates of the European elections – unless Britain participates in them and once again elects its own MEPs.
“There will be no renegotiations, no new negotiations, no additional guarantees in addition to those already given,” Juncker told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk Radio earlier.
“We have intensively moved towards Britain, there can be no more,” the EC President declared.
(Banner image: TV grab from the BBC)