Brexit: Donald Tusk says Westminster division means long delay


On the eve of an European Union summit of national leaders due to decide on whether to grant Britain another Brexit delay, the euro zone's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the length of any second postponement beyond the current date would depend on the rationale presented by May.

British Prime Minister Theresa May reacts as she arrives for a meeting to discuss Brexit with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 9, 2019.

After further talks Tuesday over an informal lunch of sandwiches and sausage rolls, the two sides said they would resume their discussions after Wednesday's European Union summit.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar told RTE at the weekend any member state that vetoed a delay "wouldn't be forgiven", citing the damage a no-deal exit could cause to his country. "One possibility would be a flexible extension, which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year, as beyond that date we will need to decide unanimously on some key European projects".

While the Government can offer any new date, it must come to Parliament to set out the length of the extension today.

Britain is due to leave the EU without a deal on 12 April unless a new date is agreed at the EU Summit on Wednesday.

"However, 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".

What is the customs union? Related Stories
What is the customs union? Related Stories

The EU has been clear that it would accept a softer Brexit, but the idea is anathema to eurosceptics in May's party who have helped to defeat May's divorce deal three times this year. Labour Party junior Brexit spokesman Matthew Pennycook said his party supported May's extension plan, but warned the extra time must be used to try and find a compromise with Labour and not to pass her own thrice-rejected deal at a fourth attempt.

Act legally rules out leaving the bloc without a deal and forces the Prime Minister to seek further Article 50 extension.

In Paris, an Elysee Palace aide close to Macron, who has taken a more reticent stance against a lengthy delay, said a delay of up to a year seemed "too long".

The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that Britain risks a serious shock if it leaves the European Union without an agreement.

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.

It would nearly certainly require the United Kingdom to take part in European Parliament elections in May.

Labour business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey said there had not been "any fundamental shift. but we're hopeful that progress will be made". Discussions with Jeremy Corbyn do not appear to be making any progress with minister Dr Liam Fox warning Mrs May that the customs union with the EU Labour is demanding would be the "worst of both worlds" and EU leaders are growing exhausted of repeated extension requests.

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