EU to grant short Brexit delay if MPs uphold deal, says Tusk
The EU will grant a short delay of Brexit if the Withdrawal Agreement is upheld in the House of Commons next week, the President of the European Council said.
The EU27 agreed unanimously to grant an extension of the Article 50 period until the 22nd of May, if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by the House of Commons next week.
In the second scenario, that is, if the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved, the European Council said it agrees to an extension until the 12th of April, while expecting the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward. What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed.
Prime Minister Theresa May formally requested an extension of the Article 50 period until 30 June 2019, in a letter addressed to Donald Tusk on Wednesday.
“In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days, I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons,” President Tusk said at the time.
He noted that he does not foresee an extraordinary European Council.
“Even if the hope for a final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking – until the very last moment – a positive solution,” President Tusk assured.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ms May expressed her regret for the Brexit delay decision in a televised address.
“Two years on, MPs have been unable to agree on a way to implement the UK’s withdrawal,” she said.
“As a result, we will now not leave on time with a deal on 29 March.”
Following her speech, Labour MPs took to Twitter accusing the PM of shifting the blame.
“This type of message is very dangerous in the current political climate and feeds a far right narrative. The Prime Minister clearly has absolutely no insight into how she has brought the country to this point which is just astonishing. Surely the cabinet, her party, have to act,” MP Diana Johnson tweeted.
Her colleague Wes Streeting accused Ms May of putting the lives of MPs in danger.
“I’ve thought long and hard before saying this, but @theresa_may knows that MPs across the House are subjected to death threats - some very credible. Her speech was incendiary and irresponsible. If any harm comes to any of us, she will have to accept her share of responsibility,” Mr Streeting said.
Prominent political journalists are predicting that May is very unlikely to garner support for her deal, given the MPs reactions to her speech and resignation calls from her own backbenchers.
“With reactions like this, no way does the deal have the Labour votes to pass next week. So long extension or no deal. Buckle up,” The Times political editor, Henry Zeffman, said on Twitter.