Mon | Jun 24, 2019

UK’s May asks a wary EU to delay Brexit until June 30

Published:Wednesday | March 20, 2019 | 10:52 AM
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session at parliament in London Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May formally asked the European Union on Wednesday to postpone Britain’s departure from the bloc — due in nine days — until June 30.

But an exasperated EU said Britain would have to accept either a shorter delay or a much longer one.

In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, May said the Brexit process “clearly will not be completed before 29 March, 2019” — the date fixed in law two years ago for Britain’s departure.

She asked for a delay until June 30, and said she wanted to set out her reasons to EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Opposition politicians, and pro-EU members of May’s Conservative government, had urged a longer extension, saying a delay of just a few months could leave Britain once again facing a cliff-edge “no-deal” Brexit this summer.

Withdrawing without a deal could mean huge disruption for businesses and people in the U.K. and the 27 remaining EU countries.

But a long extension would infuriate the pro-Brexit wing of May’s divided party, and would require Britain to participate in May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament.

May said that would be unacceptable.

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