EU 'set to reject' Theresa May’s bid to delay Brexit to 30 June
The European Union is set to reject Theresa May’s attempt to delay Brexit until 30 June, a leaked document has revealed.
A European Commission note on the Brexit process obtained by Reuters says the UK should be faced with a “binary” choice of either approving a short Brexit delay to 23 May - the date of the European elections - or a longer delay until the end of 2019.
The leak came just minutes after Mrs May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk asking for a three-month delay, and arguing that any longer extension would represent a “failure” and could risk Britain being pulled into fresh European Parliament elections.
But, in a major blow for the Prime Minister’s latest strategy, the document reportedly says Britain should be forced to take part in the EU-wide vote or risk undermining the bloc’s institutions.
“Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until 23 May 2019 or should be significantly longer and require European elections,” it says. “This is the only way of protecting the functioning of the EU institutions and their ability to take decisions.”
It comes after Mrs May - whose Brexit deal has twice been heavily rejected by MPs - hit out at Parliament and said a longer Brexit delay would risk "endless hours and days of this House carrying on contemplating its navel on Europe and failing to address the issues that matter to our constituents".
The Prime Minister wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk ahead of Thursday's European Council meeting tomorrow, seeking agreement to extend Article 50 to 30 June. Mrs May said the "short extension" would allow ministers to bring forward a third meaningful vote on her deal.
She said: "On Thursday the House voted in favour of a short extension if the House had supported a meaningful vote before this week’s European Council.
"The motion also made it clear that a longer extension would oblige the United Kingdom to hold elections to the European Parliament. Mr Speaker, I do not believe such elections would be in anyone’s interests.
"The idea… that three years after voting to leave the EU the people of this country should be asked to elect a new set of MEPs is, I believe, unacceptable."
The push for a delay came after Commons Speaker John Bercow effectively blocked the Government from putting its Brexit deal before the Commons for a third vote.