The EU summit has offered Britain two options for a brief shift of Brexit. If the British House of Commons will accept the withdrawal agreement next week, the Brexit date will be postponed to 22 May. Otherwise, London will have until 12 April to decide whether to vote in the European elections and request a longer Brexit shift by the end of 2019. The alternative would be a disorderly exit.
EU Council President Donald Tusk said the 27 EU states other than the United Kingdom had unanimously agreed on their response to the British side’s requests. British Prime Minister Theresa May accepted the offer.
Britain was originally scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March. Due to the difficulties in ratifying the EU exit treaty, May asked for a postponement on Wednesday until 30 June.
However, this was met with resistance from many EU governments, because the deadline is only after the European elections from 23 to 26 May. Britain would actually have to take part in it, even though it is leaving the EU. The heads of state and government had been discussing Brexit in Brussels since the afternoon.
Following the EU decision, British Prime Minister May announced that she would now be working with all her might for parliamentary approval in London for a withdrawal agreement next week. “It’s time to make a decision,” May said. She also emphasized that it would be “not right” for her country to be forced to vote in the European elections in the event of another vote defeat in the lower house.
But this would be a prerequisite for a further shift of the exit. According to diplomatic sources, a postponement by the end of the year could be enough, the British Parliament should again vote against the withdrawal agreement next week. However, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker did not want to commit himself to such a limit. The British could stay in the EU “to the very end,” he said.
Council President Donald Tusk admitted that “we did not succeed in finding a final solution”. But at least there is a way to “facilitate Even in her home, May continues to come under pressure. The two largest union and business associations in the UK have called on the government to change course in the Brexit dispute.
Otherwise, a “national emergency” is imminent, Frances O’Grady of the Trade Union Confederation TUC and Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI Business Association warned in an open letter to May. “A new approach is needed, one that protects workers, the economy and an open border in Ireland ‘getting a majority in Parliament and being negotiable with the EU,’ states a joint statement.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn – also in Brussels – campaigned for an alternative Brexit plan. He considers it possible to agree on a deal on closer economic relations with the EU before the European elections, Corbyn said. “It’s time for MPs to work together and find a consensus that goes through Parliament.” process for both sides”.
A hard Brexit is still not excluded from the agreement. “On April 12, we need to know where we are,” said Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel after the deliberations. “If we do not get an answer, it’s a ‘no deal’ – a tough exit from the EU without a withdrawal contract. French delegation circles said that Britain had to attend the European elections in late May in the event of a long Brexit postponement – the deadline for this decision is 12 April. “If the UK does not want to organize European elections, then we have no other chance, that would mean that they opt for a ‘no deal’.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel sees the EU summit decision as backing for May’s course. EU leaders wanted “to support Theresa May in their concerns” and would have said so, Merkel said. From her point of view, it was “a very intense, but also very successful evening”.
Merkel described the fact that the debates took off over many hours as “the seriousness of the situation” adapted. “It was a very honest, important discussion today and we are prepared for all scenarios,” she said. “We still wish for Britain to leave the European Union in an orderly manner, but we also need to prepare for other ways of being acceptable to the people of Europe.”
Several politicians had appealed to the British House of Commons at the summit in Brussels to avert a chaotic British exit. French President Emmanuel Macron said after a four-eye conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May that the risk of a no-deal Brexit was not over. If the House of Commons rejects the agreement again next week, “we are moving towards a no-deal scenario”.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also warned that if the House of Commons was to vote no again, everything would become more difficult. The Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called for a swift decision in London: “We are not looking for the exit door, we are looking for the emergency exit.” The problem is clearly in London: “This sometimes reminds me of the drama ‘Waiting for Godot’.”