Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Europe Set to Enforce a Longer Brexit Extension

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Europe Set to Enforce a Longer Brexit Extension

Article excerpt

Byline: HARRIET LINE Reporter

EUROPEAN Council president Donald Tusk has suggested EU leaders grant the UK a longer extension to Brexit than Theresa May has requested.

The Prime Minister, who spent yesterday holding talks with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, has been making the case for a delay until June 30.

But Mr Tusk, in a letter to the heads of the 27 remaining member states ahead of a crunch summit today, said there was "little reason to believe" that the ratification of Mrs May's beleaguered Brexit deal could be completed by the end of June.

He called for the European Council to discuss an alternative, longer extension, such as a "flexible extension" lasting "as long as necessary and no longer than one year".

Mr Tusk wrote: "The flexibility would allow to terminate the extension automatically, as soon as both sides have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement.

"The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready. And the EU27 would avoid repeated Brexit summits.

"Importantly, a long extension would provide more certainty and predictability by removing the threat of constantly shifting cliff-edge dates.

"Furthermore, in the event of a continued stalemate, such a longer extension would allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy."

He suggested that the EU would grant an extension rather than allowing Britain to leave without a deal on Friday, saying that, given the "risks posed" for those on both sides of the English Channel, "I trust that we will continue to do our utmost to avoid this scenario".

Mr Tusk's letter came after the PM arrived in Paris for talks with Mr Macron, who in recent days has warned that an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process is not guaranteed. Earlier over a "working lunch", Mrs May and Ms Merkel had agreed on the importance of an "orderly withdrawal" from the EU, Downing Street said. …

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