British PM asks European Union to delay Brexit until June 30

Bob's cartoon for the Telegraph

The question over timing is vital because Britain is set to leave the European Union without a withdrawal deal in place on April 12 unless an agreement is reached at a Brussels summit set to take place two days earlier.

Mrs May has already obtained one extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process, postponing the date of Brexit from March 29 to April 12.

The British Prime Minister has warned her cross-party talks with Labour on Brexit will mean "compromise on both sides".

But others say May has little choice but to change her long-held Brexit positions, after lawmakers rejected her deal and also repeatedly ruled out leaving the bloc without an agreement.

May's team is now holding negotiations with leaders from Britain's main opposition Labour Party in a bid to secure enough votes to push through her deal on a fourth attempt.

May is talking with opposition lawmakers to create a cross-party consensus to break the Brexit deadlock, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she had not moved far enough in a first round of the talks.

However, three days of talks ended with no agreement and Labour accused May's Conservative government of not offering real change.

Tory critics warned that the way Brexit was being handled could pose an "existential threat" to the party.

Downing Street has insisted it is prepared to pursue alterations to its Brexit deal and is ready to hold further talks with Labour this weekend.

The prime minister is due to travel to Brussels on Wednesday afternoon for the emergency European council summit, but a comprehensive package required by the EU to permit a further delay to Brexit does not seem achievable, at present.

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May also told EU Council president Donald Tusk in a formal letter that Britain would start preparing for its participation in European Parliament elections in case it is still a member of the bloc when they begin on May 23.

Having Britain participate in the balloting would be required to protect the integrity of the European election process, but it would tie the United Kingdom closer to the EU at a time when politicians are trying to finalize the country's divorce from the rest of the bloc.

The warnings came as the Prime Minister made a last desperate appeal on Saturday night to MPs to back a deal, saying there was an increasing danger Brexit would "slip though our fingers".

The elections pose a substantial stumbling block because Britain would be expected to take part, if it is still an EU member, so its people have representation in the European Parliament.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, however, said May would have to convince European Union leaders that Britain would continue "sincere co-operation" with the bloc if granted a delay.

It is the latest twist in a saga that leaves Britain, the world's fifth-biggest economy, struggling to find a way to honor a 2016 referendum result to take the country out of the globe's largest trading bloc.

May said that her failure to agree a way forward with Labour would likely see the two parties jointly come up with several options "on the future relationship (with the EU) to be put to (parliament) for a series of votes".

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said both Conservatives and Labour should compromise to make Brexit happen.

An extension is not automatic and requires the agreement of all 27 other European Union countries, with France demanding a plan from Mrs May that has "clear and credible political backing".

The leaders of European Union member countries are due to meet in Brussels Wednesday - two days before the April 12 deadline - to consider Britain's request for a second extension. She'll offer to rewrite the government's withdrawal bill to make sure a customs arrangement is enshrined in law, a move that would be hard for a future euroskeptic PM to retract after May steps down.



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