EU snubs Theresa May by only offering Brexit delay until 22 May - if MPs back her deal

Posted On: 
21st March 2019

EU bosses have rejected Theresa May's attempt to delay Brexit until 30 June.

Theresa May is greeted by EU leaders.
PA Images

In a fresh snub for the Prime Minister, the EU Council summit in Brussels decided to approve her request for an Article 50 extension - but only until 22 May.

They said a longer delay is impossible because the UK has ruled out taking part in the European Parliament elections that week.

ANALYSIS Theresa May has alienated MPs again - but it could be worth it for Brexit

Top business and trade union groups unite in call for Theresa May to change course on Brexit

Emmanuel Macron says UK will quit EU with no deal if MPs reject Theresa May plan next week

Mrs May has also been warned that the delay is wholly dependent on MPs finally passing her Brexit deal when they vote on it for a third time next week.

Summit conclusions published by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday afternoon said: "The European Council commits to agreeing, before 29 March 2019, to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week.

"Given that the United Kingdom does not intend to hold elections to the European Parliament, no extension is possible beyond that date."

In her letter to EU Council president Donald Tusk requesting an extension until 30 June, Mrs May had said the Government needed that time to pass the necessary legislation to implement the deal.

Earlier, French president Emmanuel Macron had warned that the UK was heading for a no-deal Brexit if Mrs May's deal is not passed next week.

He said: "In the case of a negative vote in the British parliament, we will be going to a no-deal. We all know that. It is absolutely essential to be clear in these days and these moments, because it is a matter of the good functioning of the EU.

"We cannot have what I would call an excessive extension which would harm our capacity to [make a] decision and to act.”

Msr Macron added: "The exit process has taken two years of negotiation. It cannot be renegotiated."