UK seeks Brexit extension

London: British PM Theresa May on Friday wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk seeking a further extension to the UK’s Brexit deadline until June 30 to try and find a solution in Parliament to the current impasse over the terms of Britain’s exit from the 28-member economic bloc. Under the current terms agreed with the European Union, the UK is due to leave the bloc by May 22 if May’s repeatedly-rejected divorce bill clears the House of Commons or crash out without any deal in place by April 12.

In her letter, which comes ahead of an EU summit next Wednesday, May told Tusk while it is “frustrating” there has been no “orderly” conclusion after her withdrawal agreement was rejected three times by the House of Commons over the controversial Irish backstop clause, the UK remains “strongly committed” to finding a Brexit resolution as soon as possible.
This further extension to the Article 50 mechanism, first extended from the March 29 deadline last month, means the UK may now have to contest the European Parliament election scheduled for May 23. In her letter, May notes it is not in the interests of the UK or the EU to go down this route, but accepts it as an inevitable “legal obligation”.

She confirms the UK would begin “contingency” preparations to field candidates for European Parliament polls but will keep working towards getting a withdrawal deal ratified by May 22 to avert such a move. Her letter reads like a long explanation of why Britain has been forced to seek yet another extension and points the finger of blame at British MPs who have not only rejected her withdrawal agreement but also failed to come up with a credible alternative. “The House has, however, continued to express its opposition to leaving the EU without a deal. The government agrees leaving with a deal is the best outcome,” she notes. —PTI

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