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European governments dismiss Theresa May's 30 June Brexit delay request

2 min read

European governments have criticised Theresa May’s request for a Brexit extension until 30 June, warning that the UK could end up leaving the EU without a deal. 

In a letter to Donald Tusk on Friday, the Prime Minister "reluctantly" asked for a further extension to Article 50.

She also confirmed that the Government is “undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations” for next month's European Parliament elections, in case the UK is still a member of the bloc on 23 May. 

But responding to Mrs May's request, European governments have attacked the proposals, dismissing their viability.

Amelie de Montchalin, the French Europe minister, said that the UK could not continue to ask for extensions without “clear and credible political backing”. 

“In the absence of such a plan, we would have to acknowledge that the UK chose to leave the EU in a disorderly manner,” she continued. 

Spain and Belgium are also thought to back France's hardline stance, paving the way for a no-deal Brexit on 12 April.

However, at a meeting of diplomats from the other 27 member states, the German insisted: “There are positive elements to the letter”.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who has frequently voiced concerns about a no-deal Brexit, argued that a longer delay to Brexit “might make more sense” than “an extension every couple of weeks or every couple of months, because that just adds to the uncertainty for citizens, for businesses and for farmers.” 

Mrs May will make her case for a further delay at an emergency EU Councol meeting next Wednesday.

The widespread criticism from EU members comes as cross-party Brexit talks between the Government and Labour appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

A Labour spokesperson said on Friday evening: “We are disappointed that the Government has not offered real change or compromise.

“We urge the Prime Minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal in an effort to find an alternative that can win support in Parliament and bring the country together.” 

However, in a sign that progress could still be made, a Government spokesman returned: “We have made serious proposals in talks this week, and are prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides.” 

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