European Union ministers insist Britain must justify Brexit delay

Jeannie Matthews
April 10, 2019

Meanwhile, Mrs May has been meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks ahead of the summit.

France's European affairs minister, Amélie de Montchalin, said the 27 will need commitments from May that the British government will continue to play a constructive role in EU decision-making if a long extension is to be granted.

"...our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the House of Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June".

May's ministers at home have been holding talks with the opposition Labour party on the terms of the UK's departure.

Barnier said he had no information about such a plan, and a German government spokesman said the report was "without any foundation".

"There aren't any scheduled talks yet but I have no doubt things will develop today", he added.

That will be another key meeting - Macron was the major opponent to granting Britain a Brexit extension at last month's European Council summit, and he's expected to pursue a similarly hard line during Wednesday's discussions.

Meanwhile, British MPs on Monday passed a new law aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit this week by obliging the government to ask European Union leaders for a delay.

The EU has continually said it will not re-open the withdrawal agreement for negotiations, but Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom has renewed her plea for it to look at it again.

May is due to travel to Paris and Berlin on Tuesday to press her request for a short delay, before it is formally discussed by European Union leaders on Wednesday.

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EU diplomatic sources I have spoken to suggest the prime minister may have officially asked the EU for a short new extension (until 30 June) as that was politically easier for her back home, whereas she believed and hoped (the theory goes) that EU leaders will insist instead on a flexible long extension that she actually needs.

On the eve of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc was ready to grand a delay, but that the duration "has got to be in line with the goal of any such extension".

On Monday, Mrs. May spoke by phone with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who said it was "crucial" for the EU's members to know "when and on what basis" the United Kingdom will ratify the withdrawal deal.

If Britain's exit is delayed beyond May 22, the EU has said it will have to take part in European Parliament elections.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in London, April 3, 2019.

According to reports, Brexit could be delayed by almost a year under plans being considered by European Union officials.

"Decisiveness and unanimity is essential at the European Council summit of government leaders", stressed Seibert.

The move was supported in a 420-110 vote.

If a cross-party deal can not be reached, MPs are expected to vote on a series of Brexit options proposed by the government in the near future.

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