Theresa May requests Brexit delay until 30 June in letter to Donald Tusk

Posted On: 
5th April 2019

Theresa May has requested a further Brexit delay until 30 June to buy her more time to get Commons backing for a deal.

Theresa May and Donald Tusk in Brussels in October
PA Images

In yet another humiliation, the Prime Minister has written to EU Council president Donald Tusk "reluctantly" asking for another extension to Article 50.

She also confirmed that plans were now underway for the UK to possibly take part in next month's European Parliament elections, despite Mrs May repeatedly insisting that would not happen.

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The UK is currently due to leave the bloc next Friday unless MPs back a deal before then, thereby moving the exit date back to 22 May.

But in her letter, Mrs May says Brexit day sould now be the end of June, with the option of leaving before then if the Commons ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before then.

The demand risks a clash with European officials however after reports that Brussels was only prepared to offer the UK a year-long “flextension”, with the option of leaving before then if possible.

In her letter, the Prime Minister said that talks were taking place with Labour in an attempt to agree a joint-solution to the Brexit impasse, with the aim of presenting a proposal to the Commons.

But she conceded that the Government needed more time to ensure an "orderly" withdrawal from the EU.

The Prime Minister said: "I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period… The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on 30 June 2019.

“If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.”

On the European elections, she said: "The Government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this prove not possible.

“It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion.

“The United Kingdom Government remains strongly committed to doing so, and will continue to act as a constructive and responsible Member State of the European Union in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation throughout this unique period.”

The PM’s letter came shortly after it was reported that Mr Tusk was pushing the EU27 to hand the UK a one-year “flexible” extension to Article 50 that would allow the country to pull out early once the withdrawal agreement is ratified by parliament.

He is said to have described the plan as “the only reasonable way out” and will tell leaders at next Wednesday’s emergency Council summit that the so-called “flextension” will mean they do not have to review the issue of delays every few weeks.