Britain's Brexit minister says: I don't want a long delay

Arturo Kim
April 11, 2019

With Britain set to leave the European Union at 11pm on Friday without a deal unless an extension is agreed, Mrs May insisted she would be "pressing the case" in the Belgian capital for a shorter delay.

The most likely scenario, for now, appears to be a far longer extension that could carry over into 2020 after European Council President Donald Tusk who, in a letter to the heads of the 27 Member States, requested that they push back the deadline for Brexit to an unspecified time beyond the end of the year. May reportedly updated Merkel on the ongoing discussions with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

As May was holding talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, a team of her top ministers were negotiating in London with Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and leading shadow ministers from the main opposition party.

May heads to Brussels Wednesday nearly certainly feeling comforted that a Friday no-deal departure deadline has been averted.

"In reality, granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates", he said, reflecting concern in European Union capitals.

A huge majority of 420 MPs voted in favour of the motion, while 110 voted against - including 97 Conservatives.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas meanwhile said Brussels was "fully prepared" to cope in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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Labour's Rebecca Long Bailey, who took part in the latest round of talks, said they were hopeful progress will be made.

The visits came as the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Brussels could amend the political declaration on future relations with the United Kingdom "within a few hours or days" to incorporate the customs union arrangement being discussed in cross-party talks between the Government and Labour.

"We have yet to see the clear shift in the government's position that is needed to secure a compromise agreement".

"If we are going through that process of trying to get Parliament to support a deal to find a way of breaking this deadlock, then Theresa May continues to be right person to lead us through that process". "This is something that Labour do not presently seem to understand".

Despite the prime minister's Brexit deal being defeated three times in the House of Commons Mr Barclay said that " the only deal on the table from the European Union is the deal with the Withdrawal Agreement".

The EU's 28 leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, are heading to Brussels for an emergency summit dedicated to Brexit.

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