Brexit talks: European Union leaders offer extension to October 31

Theresa May Brussels

UK PM May In Brussels as EU Leaders Deliberate Second Brexit Extension Getty ImagesOLIVER JJ LANE10 Apr 2019

"If they need a little more time, I think it's reasonable to discuss what that would be", Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said, noting that Britain still faced choices - to leave without a deal, accept the deal that its parliament has rejected three times, or change its mind and stay in the EU.

BRUSSELS - The European Union will grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit at an emergency summit on Wednesday but leaders will debate a longer extension with conditions to prevent any future British leader jeopardizing the bloc.

Her comments were in line with a plan put forward by European Council president Donald Tusk for an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process.

The Prime Minister, however, remains under intense pressure from Conservative MPs - already angry at the failure to leave on March 29 as planned - who oppose any further delay.

She said she still hoped to leave the EU on May 22, the last day before Britain must hold European Parliament elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in combative mood, demanding Britain set out a clear path forward and dismissing reports the leaders had already chose to give May space of up to a year.

Mr Barclay insisted the Prime Minister did not want to see a lengthy delay, which was why the Government was asking only for an extension to the end of June.

"It is 34 months since the British referendum, and the key for us is that we are able to pursue the European project in a coherent way", he added.

May had requested the European Union defer Friday's exit until June 30 but in Brussels a "flextension" until the end of the year or until March 2020 was being discussed, European Union diplomats said.

May will have to explain her Brexit strategy before the EU's 27 leaders on Wednesday before leaving while they discuss her request over dinner. In contrast to some testy recent summits, there were signs of warmth and even humor.

Brexit talks: European Union leaders offer extension to October 31
Brexit talks: European Union leaders offer extension to October 31

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union had "expectations" of Britain so that European Union institutions can continue functioning "seamlessly".

Many leaders said they were inclined to grant a Brexit delay, though Macron had reservations after hearing May speak.

"Furthermore, in the event of a continued stalemate, such a longer extension would allow the United Kingdom to rethink its Brexit strategy".

But a French source said a 12-month extension "seems too long".

Earlier, over a working lunch, Mrs May and Mrs Merkel had agreed on the importance of an "orderly withdrawal" from the EU, Downing Street said.

"The no-deal situation is a real option", said the official, who was not authorised to be publicly named according to presidential policy.

Our common objective is to get withdrawal agreement ratified.

"At this stage, in my view, nothing should be taken for granted", Macron told reporters upon his arrival in Brussels.

And he left fellow panellists on Iain Dale's Cross Question in absolute stitches with his criticisms of the Tories, Theresa May and her government.

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