EU gives Theresa May two-week Brexit lifeline to break Commons deadlock

Posted On: 
22nd March 2019

Theresa May has told MPs they have a “clear choice” after the EU gave the Commons until 12 April to pass her Brexit deal or face quitting the bloc with nothing.

Theresa May in Brussels last night
Credit: 
PA Images

After marathon talks in Brussels last night, EU leaders offered the UK a Brexit delay up to the 22 May, provided MPs back the deal in Parliament next week.

But if the blueprint is rejected for a third time, Britain will have until 12 April to set out its plans or leave without a deal.

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If at that point the UK wanted to go for a longer extension, it would have to participate in the European Parliament elections the following month.

In a late-night press statement, the Prime Minister said the offer underlined “the importance of the House of Commons passing a Brexit deal next week”.

She added: “Tomorrow morning, I will be returning to the UK and working hard to build support for getting the deal through...

“I hope we can all agree, we are now at the moment of decision. I will make every effort to ensure that we are able to leave with a deal and move our country forward.”

Mrs May had asked for an extension lasting until the 30 June but was rebuffed by EU leaders who said the UK will be unable to pass the 22 May deadline without taking part in the Parliament elections.

She made her case at the European Council summit for around 90 minutes last night before EU leaders debated their offer for eight hours.

Afterwards, Council president Donald Tusk said the atmosphere among the heads of state was “much better than I had expected” - amid reports of deep divisions about what to offer the UK.

Meanwhile, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said there was “no more that we can give” in negotiations over the controversial Brexit deal itself.

A Commons debate on the Brexit deal has been scheduled for next Thursday, but it remains unclear when the next vote will be held, after Speaker John Bercow ruled that it cannot be voted on again without changes.