European Union offers Brexit delay until May 22 - draft statement

European Union offers Brexit delay until May 22 - draft statement

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said May would need to make her case before European Union leaders in Brussels.

"We will be taking our proposal to the British parliament next week to make sure there is no disorderly exit next Friday because I think this is the priority". "This is it. We are ready".

European leaders piled the pressure on British MPs Thursday to back a divorce deal they have negotiated with Prime Minister Theresa May, warning that the alternative was a cliff-edge exit from the EU next week.

However, the offer falls some way short of the three month extension ending on June 30 which the prime minister had asked for.

Mrs May said it was with "personal regret" that she had to delay Brexit. "But a short extension would give parliament the time to make a final choice that delivers on the result of the referendum".

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier previously warned that the bloc would not grant any delay without a "concrete plan" from Britain about what it planned to do with the extra time.

Macron, however, appeared to downplay such a development, saying he needed to see "a clear majority" for a different mandate on the future relationship.

Earlier, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was time to "cut the entire British establishment a little bit of slack on this." and give consideration to the extension request. "We must respect the will of the British people, but also the European project".

"We can not overstate the gravity of this crisis for firms and working people", said the letter signed by Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, and Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress.

"We must be clear, to ourselves, our British friends and our people".

"But we also have to prepare for the possibility of that not happening, and then we will decide what to do if that happens". "The European project must continue and must be stronger".

The prime minister had meant to hold a third vote on her deal this week, but the Speaker of the House of Commons blocked it, citing 400-year-old precedent that says the same proposition can not be put to MPs again and again.

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"I voted against a delay and I fully understand the public's frustration with the current situation - the sooner we leave, the sooner we can get on with negotiating our own trade negotiations".

Asked when Juncker would lose patience with Westminster, he responded: "I didn't even know I had this much patience".

May's deal has been roundly rejected twice by the UK Parliament, and European Union leaders want evidence that May can convince lawmakers to change their minds next week.

Across the Channel, however, there were few signs that Prime Minister Theresa May's unpopular Brexit deal was gaining in popularity among British lawmakers.

Ahead of the European summit starting on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her will to fight for an orderly Brexit "until the last day, until the last hour".

"However, the Speaker has said that he will stay in place until after Brexit so we have no idea of when he is likely to go".

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement, at 10 Downing Street, in London, March 20, 2019.

He said his "biggest wish" was that the United Kingdom might change its mind in favour of a second referendum, in which the electorate would be "really informed of the situation".

Now, sources have told the Press Association that France, Spain, Belgium and maybe Italy stand prepared to reject an extension without evidence parliament is now ready to accept a deal and "the deadlock can be broken".

Britain's European Parliament members are already packing their boxes to depart.

The dates are key because elections to the European Parliament begin on May 23 and Britain has to notify the EU if it plans to participate in that vote by April 12.

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