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Theresa May writes to Donald Tusk seeking further Brexit delay

Theresa May faces a week of hectic diplomacy as she battles to keep her withdrawal agenda on track

Prime Minister Theresa May with President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Leon Neal/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May with President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Leon Neal/PA)

Theresa May has written to European Council president Donald Tusk on Friday requesting a further delay to Brexit.

She says the UK will begin to prepare for the European Parliament Elections.

Theresa May is asking for an extension up to the end of June with an option to end earlier if the Government manages to get a deal through parliament before that.

It's thought the EU will agree for a request for up to a year.

"The Government's policy has always been and remains to leave the European Union in an orderly way, and without undue delay," Theresa May wrote.

"The House of Commons has not thus far approved the deal that would enable this, nor - despite considerable efforts by both Members of Parliament and by the Government - has it yet found a majority in favour of any other proposal. The House has, however, continued to express its opposition to leaving the European Union without a deal. The Government agrees that leaving with a deal is the best outcome."

She said the current impasse could not go on. Over the past two days her party has met with Labour in a bid to find an agreement and has invited all parties to work with her. However, she insisted the withdrawal agreement must be approved.

"In the UK it is creating uncertainty and doing damage to faith in politics, while the European Union has a legitimate desire to move on to decisions about its own future. That is why the Government has decided to take further action to seek a consensus across the House of Commons on the right way forward," she continued.

"If a consensus is going to be found, compromise will be needed on all sides, in the national interest."

"If the talks do not lead to a single unified approach soon, the Government would instead look to establish a consensus on a small number of clear options on the future relationship that could be put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue. The Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House, if the Opposition will commit to doing the same.

"These steps demonstrate that the Government is determined to bring this process to a resolution quickly."

Theresa May said that, while it was not in the interests of the UK or the EU, there should be elections to the European Parliament next month if the deadlock is not broken. 

"However, the United Kingdom accepts the European Council's view that if the United Kingdom were still a Member State of the European Union on 23 May 2019, it would be under a legal obligation to hold the elections. The Government is therefore undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations for this contingency, including by making the Order that sets the date of the poll."

She added: "It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion. The United Kingdom Government remains strongly committed to doing so, and will continue to act as a constructive and responsible Member State of the European Union in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation throughout this unique period. I would be grateful for the opportunity to update our colleagues on the position at our meeting on Wednesday."

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