May set to be offered long delay to Brexit

Theresa May looks set to be offered a lengthy delay to Brexit as she meets EU leaders in Brussels for a crunch summit.

European Council president Donald Tusk has recommended that leaders of the remaining 27 EU countries approve an extension of up to year, with a break clause allowing the UK to leave as soon as it ratifies its Withdrawal Agreement.

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that they “may well” go for an extension beyond the June 30 date requested by Mrs May.

The Prime Minister told MPs in March that “as Prime Minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June”, sparking speculation that she could resign rather than wait longer for EU withdrawal.

Brexit
Mrs May was due to hold talks with European Council president Donald Tusk ahead of the summit (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But arriving in Brussels, she dodged the issue of whether she would accept a longer extension, insisting that her priority was to secure the right for the UK to leave once ratification is complete.

Asked twice what she would do if the deadline agreed by the EU27 was later than the end of June, Mrs May said: “I have asked for an extension to June 30, but what is important is that any extension enables us to leave at the point of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, so we can leave on May 22 and start to build our better and brighter future.”

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