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Donald Tusk suggests European Union leaders grant United Kingdom a longer Brexit extension

Donald Tusk suggests European Union leaders grant United Kingdom a longer Brexit extension

Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for Brexit to be postponed to June 30 but Tusk said the evidence of recent months gave "little reason to believe" that divided British lawmakers would ratify the divorce deal by then.

European Union rules say that any extension to the Brexit deadline needs unanimity among the 27 other member states, and even if smaller member states would be hard-pressed to do it on their own, France has never shied away from being an European Union leader - even at the expense of Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May reacts as she arrives for a meeting to discuss Brexit with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 9, 2019.

UK Government discussions with opposition Labour, so far fruitless, are also set to continue. Those negotiations are ongoing.

Tough-guy France softened its stance Tuesday and showed willingness to accept yet another delay in the long-awaited Brexit, diminishing the chances that Britain would crash out of the European Union this week without any future plan.

The country could still crash out of the European Union without a deal if the bloc's leaders refuse to grant a delay. "In the event of a long extension, one year would seem too long for us", they added.

Mrs May will report back to MPs on the Brussels summit and seek approval for a revised extension date.

The ministers discussed the bloc's conditions for any long delay, which include Britain holding European Parliament elections in May and committing to "sincere cooperation", or not undermining the EU's important reforms and institutions should it stay a member for longer.

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He said the United Kingdom needed to show "substantial steps" towards resolving its political deadlock but said a no-deal Brexit would be the worst possible outcome.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, also said the length of any delay will depend on the rationale May presents in Brussels on Wednesday.

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.

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

"The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready", he said.

If Britain's exit is delayed beyond May 22, the EU has said it will have to take part in European Parliament elections.

"Decisiveness and unanimity is essential at the European Council summit of government leaders", stressed Seibert.

As a last resort, May has even started cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but there have been no results so far. Discussions with Jeremy Corbyn do not appear to be making any progress with minister Dr Liam Fox warning Mrs May that the customs union with the EU Labour is demanding would be the "worst of both worlds" and EU leaders are growing exhausted of repeated extension requests.

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