EU, Britain agree to delay Brexit to end of October

Theresa May's hopes to hold a third vote on her already twice-rejected Brexit deal with the EU next week.
Theresa May's hopes to hold a third vote on her already twice-rejected Brexit deal with the EU next week.
Published: Apr. 10, 2019 at 6:31 PM CDT
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European Union leaders and Britain have agreed to allow Britain to extend Brexit until Oct. 31.

EU Council president Donald Tusk says "this means additional six months for the UK to find the best possible solution."

Tusk said early Thursday that it is a flexible extension, referring to his earlier offer that Britain could leave before if it accepted the withdrawal deal with the EU.

May came to the summit in Brussels requesting a delay until June 30 but acknowledged she would be willing to extend the date. The British Parliament has repeatedly rejected a withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU, leading to a deadlock over Britain’s long-awaited departure.

Leaders of the 27 remaining EU member states met for more than six hours before agreeing to postpone Brexit until Oct. 31, two officials said.

EU leaders spent a long dinner meeting wrangling over whether to save Britain from a precipitous and potentially calamitous Brexit, or to give the foot-dragging departing nation a shove over the edge.

May pleaded with them at an emergency summit to delay Britain's exit, due on Friday, until June 30 while the U.K. sorts out the mess that Brexit has become.

Some were sympathetic, but French President Emmanuel Macron struck a warning note.

"Nothing is decided," Macron said, insisting on "clarity" from May about what Britain wants.

"What's indispensable is that nothing should compromise the European project in the months to come," he said.

May believed that an extension would give Britain’s Parliament enough time to ratify a Brexit deal and pass the legislation needed for a smooth Brexit.

But British lawmakers have rejected her divorce deal three times, and attempts to forge a compromise with her political opponents have yet to bear fruit.

May spoke to the 27 EU leaders for just over an hour, before they met for dinner without her to decide Britain's fate. In contrast to some testy recent summits, there were signs of warmth and even humor. May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were filmed laughing over a tablet bearing an image showing the two of them speaking to their respective Parliaments on Wednesday wearing similar blue jackets.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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