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Brexit: EU leaders decide UK’s fate behind closed doors as Theresa May secures Article 50 extension

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Theresa May was left ready final evening whereas European leaders determined the way forward for Brexit behind closed doorways. 

The prime minister had hoped to be handed an extension of the Article 50 interval till 30 June earlier than making an announcement from Brussels within the early night. 

As an alternative, the 27 presidents and prime ministers had been locked in talks lengthy into the evening after they tore up draft proposals and produced a sophisticated conditional plan.


Diplomats within the room painted a disorientating image of discussions, with proposals for shorter and longer deadlines made by totally different international locations. 

EU leaders finally agreed that the UK may have an unconditional extension till 12 April, and an extra extension till 22 Might if MPs permitted the withdrawal settlement subsequent week.

The so-called “flextension” would additionally give the UK the choice of an extended delay if wanted, however solely on the situation of deciding to affix in European Parliament elections earlier than April 12.

One EU official stated: “March 29th is over. As of tonight, April 12th is the brand new March 29th.”

Talking after the settlement was struck, European Council president Donald Tusk stated Ms Might “accepts the extension situations”.

He added: “Frankly talking I used to be actually unhappy earlier than our assembly – now I’m far more optimistic.”

European Fee president Jean-Claude Juncker added: “This closes and completes the complete package deal. There’s no extra we may give. We’re hopeful that the settlement might be adopted by the Home of Commons.”

“I hope we will all agree that we’re in the meanwhile of determination,” Theresa Might stated at a press convention within the early hours of the morning.

“It offers us the chance, MPs subsequent week, to have a look at the alternatives that clearly face them: we will go away with a deal, in an orderly method, have that extension till 22 Might – or, if we do not get that deal by means of, if we do not get that vote by means of then earlier than 12 April we now have to come back ahead with one other plan, and if that plan means an extra extension it means standing in these European Parliamentary elections.”

Initially of the mammoth Brussels drafting session Theresa Might took questions from EU leaders about her Brexit technique, with diplomats aware about discussions describing her responses as unconvincing and picket.

In response to a number of accounts, the prime minister was unable to reply what would occur if she couldn’t go the vote in parliament and had no obvious plan B, spooking her fellow leaders.

After Ms Might was despatched out of the room, the 27 leaders mentioned choices for an extension that included dates in April, Might, and delays till the top of the yr. Each conditional and unconditional extensions had been thought-about by EU leaders.

Discussions and drafting of the brand new plans spilled over right into a late evening dinner, with a deliberate assembly about China-EU relations pushed again till Friday. Deliberate press conferences by Theresa Might, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker had been postponed till simply earlier than midnight.

Leaders finally agreed a textual content which learn: “The European Council agrees to extension till 22 Might, offered the withdrawal settlement is permitted by the Home of Commons subsequent week. If the withdrawal settlement will not be permitted by the Home of Commons subsequent week, the European Council agrees to an extension till 12 April and expects UK to point a means ahead earlier than this date for consideration by EUCO.”

Arriving on the summit within the afternoon Theresa Might stated the prospect of a delay was “a matter of remorse” for her. She additionally confirmed she would search an extension till 30 June.


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On the best way into the assembly Emmanuel Macron had maybe the starkest warning of Ms Might’s European counterparts, telling reporters: “Now we have to be clear: we will focus on and agree an extension if it’s a technical extension within the case of a ‘sure’ vote. Within the case of a ‘no’ vote, it can information everyone to a no deal, for certain.”

The French president stated {that a} longer delay would require “a deep political change” within the UK, including: “We can not have a long-lasting scenario the place there isn’t any visibility, no function, no political majority.”

In the meantime Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar described the scenario in London as “considerably chaotic” and stated a no-deal Brexit could be a choice by the UK as a result of it had the facility to revoke Article 50.


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