European Council president Donald Tusk has said a “short extension” to Article 50 should be possible “conditional” upon a positive vote in the UK Parliament.
Mr Tusk, speaking in Brussels, said: “In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days, I believe that a short extension would be possible.
“But it would be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons.
“The question remains open as to the duration of such an extension.”
Even if the hope for final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking – until the very last moment – a positive solution. #euco
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 20, 2019
Mr Tusk added: “Although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking until the very last moment a positive solution – of course, without opening up the Withdrawal Agreement.
“We have reacted with patience and goodwill to numerous turns of events and I am confident that also now we will not lack the same patience and goodwill at this most critical point in this process.”
In a letter to Mr Tusk today, Mrs May requested a three-month extension on the UK’s date for leaving the EU to the 30 June.
She told MPs today that she intends to table her Withdrawal Agreement to be voted on in Parliament again this week.
MPs on both sides resoundingly rejected Mrs May’s deal in two previous votes on the matter.
What it means
- MPs will vote later this week on whether to pass Mrs May’s deal or exit the EU without a deal
- Mr Tusk only spoke on a short extension, meaning no deal Brexit is not inevitable if Mrs May loses another vote – a longer extension may still be possible
- Mrs May, however, is strongly opposed to any extension longer than her suggested three months
- Hardline Brexiters favour no deal over Mrs May’s deal so are likely to still vote against the PM
- Mrs May will need Labour MPs who fear a no-deal Brexit to vote for her deal for it to pass
- Mrs May will make a statement to the media at around 8pm tonight