European Union leaders agree to Brexit extension: Tusk

PM meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel: 9 April 2019

European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed in a tweet that an extension had been agreed to, but he did not disclose the date.

"The best Brexit for the United Kingdom is for us to be able to leave in an orderly way, to be able to leave with a deal", she said.

It's likely to be a rough day for the embattled British leader as she pleads for a second extension until June 30, to prevent Britain's departure now scheduled for Friday.

Some were sympathetic, but French President Emmanuel Macron struck a warning note shortly before the European leaders met.

"We do not want to import Britain's political crisis into the European Union", said an Élysée official.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Barnier, speaking to the media when he arrived earlier said any article 50 extension would have to be "useful" and "serve a purpose".

But British lawmakers have rejected her divorce deal three times, and attempts to forge a compromise with her political opponents have yet to bear fruit.

May is expected to immediately head to Belgium after her weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons, where opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party will grill the prime minister on all matters, not just Brexit. Diplomats said he was again facing a more cautious line from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she favoured an extension of "several months".

Former Tory MP Michael Brown also said that he would be joining the Brexit Party this week, in what Mr Farage remarked as "A sign of things to come, Conservatives are coming our way".

In case no deal materialises Wednesday, Britain would crash out of the bloc on Friday with no deal regulating the departure, unless it cancels Brexit independently.

A draft copy of the summit conclusions seen by AFP before the leaders sat down to finalize it said "an extension should last only as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than [XX.XX.XXXX]".

"I've asked for an extension to June 30, but what is important is that the extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, so we could leave on May 22 and start to build our brighter future".

If Britain does not elect European Union lawmakers, it must leave, with or without a deal, on June 1, according to a draft summit agreement seen by Reuters.

But Macron had told reporters on arrival that he was concerned that letting Britain stay in the bloc longer, notably if it takes part in elections to the European Parliament on May 23-26, posed a serious risk to the functioning of the Union.

He continued: "They will then probably tie up with other MEPs in the European Parliament who do not entirely believe in the European project in the way President Macron does". She has tried four times before and each time it has been rejected.

May has no overall majority in the parliament, and relies on the vote of a small group of Northern Irish Democratic Unionist MPs, even assuming all her own Conservative MPs vote with her.

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