Brexit: Theresa May will not ask EU for long extension

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Brexit: Theresa May will not ask EU for long extension
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (file photo)
Theresa May

(BBC) — Theresa May will not be asking the EU for a long delay when she formally requests that Brexit is postponed, Downing Street says.

No 10 added that the PM shared the public’s “frustration” at Parliament’s “failure to take a decision”.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said the delay would not be beyond the end of June.

A cabinet minister has told the BBC this would be a “craven surrender to hardliners” in the Conservative Party.

However, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith – a prominent Brexiteer – said 90% of Conservative MPs would vote against a longer delay and ignoring their views would leave the party in “deep trouble”.

Under current law, the UK will leave the EU – with or without a deal – in nine days.

The PM is due to send a letter requesting a delay to Brexit later, ahead of a EU summit on Thursday at which she will discuss the matter with fellow leaders.

The EU, whose 27 other members must all sign up to any extension, said it had yet to receive any communication from the UK and senior official Donald Tusk would himself be writing to Mrs May by the end of Wednesday.

Explaining that Mrs May “won’t be asking for a long extension” when she writes to the EU, Number 10 said: “There is a case for giving Parliament a bit more time to agree a way forward, but the people of this country have been waiting nearly three years now.

“They are fed up with Parliament’s failure to take a decision and the PM shares their frustration.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggested the EU might postpone any decision on extending the Brexit process until it had “more clarity” from the UK.

“As long as we don’t know what Britain will say yes to, we can’t come to a resolution,” he told the German radio station Deutschlandfunk.

“We will probably have to meet again next week, because Mrs May has not got agreement for anything either in her cabinet or her Parliament.”

He again ruled out any further negotiation on the current deal, saying the EU had “already moved intensively towards Britain” and “there isn’t any more”.

Talks over a delay come after MPs rejected the withdrawal deal Mrs May has negotiated with the EU for a second time last week by 149 votes.

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