German chancellor Angela Merkel said today that the EU could green light a short delay to Brexit, but only if MPs back the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement in a vote next week.
However, a third successive rejection to Theresa May’s Brexit deal might lead to another meeting of the European Council, she warned.
“We can comply in principle with this request if we were to have a positive vote next week on the withdrawal documents in the British parliament,” she said in Germany’s parliament.
Council president Donald Tusk came to a similar conclusion yesterday, when he said MPs must pass May’s deal by 29 March – the UK’s scheduled departure date.
Today the Prime Minister is expected to seek approval to delay Brexit until 30 June to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal at the end of the month.
But speaking yesterday, Tusk said this date “creates a series of questions of a legal and political nature”.
The European Parliament elections start on 23 May, but the UK government does not want to take part.
Addressing the public in Downing Street yesterday, May said: “This delay is a matter of deep personal regret for me and of this I am absolutely sure you the public have had enough.”
Saying the public was tired of political “infighting” and “political games”, she said: “It’s now time for MPs to decide.”
The UK will only get an extension if all 27 EU member states agree to one.