Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

May tries to avoid second referendum by requesting June 30 extension

May tries to avoid second referendum by requesting June 30 extension

Such a move would mean that the United Kingdom needs to take part in the May 23-26 European elections - something which May has long argued against but said in her letter that Britain will make contingency plans to participate in if no Brexit deal is reached in the interim.

Unless May can agree to a closer post-Brexit economic relationship with the European Union as advocated by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Britain could be forced at the summit, two days before Britain is due to leave the bloc, into a long Brexit delay of around a year.

But she says if the Commons agrees a deal in time, the United Kingdom should be able to leave before European parliamentary elections on 23 May.

May said that if an agreement was reached before this date, then Britain proposed that the extension should be ended early.

It is not yet known whether President Tusk will recommend they accept Mrs May's request, although he previously mooted a "flexible" extension of up to a year.

May also told EU Council president Donald Tusk in a formal letter that Britain would start preparing for its participation in European Parliament elections in case it is still a member of the bloc when they begin on May 23.

Her decision sparked widespread fury among Tory Brexiteers who said it would be "crazy" for people to be asked to elect a fresh batch of MEPs nearly three years after voting to leave the EU.

Nigel Farage has announced that he will stand in the European Parliament elections next month for his new Brexit Party.

"Theresa May continues to ignore Scotland and her proposal to seek a further short extension to June 30 2019 - which the European Union has already previously rejected - demonstrates beyond doubt she is putting the interests of her fractured Tory Party above all else".

Speaking during a visit to Paris on Tuesday by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a gloomy-sounding Macron warned: "The EU can not be held hostage on a long-term basis to the resolution of a political crisis in the United Kingdom". She said she is making the preparations even though she believes it is not in the interest of either Britain or the European Union for her country to participate because it is leaving the bloc. April 12 is the last day for Britain to signal whether it will field candidates.

The former Ukip leader said he would not, after 25 years of "endeavour", watch British politicians "roll us over" - as he warned of a "fightback".

In her letter, May said she wanted to make sure that Britain left the bloc after 46 years in an orderly manner, with an agreement that could help unwind intricate political, security, diplomatic and economic ties.

She is now in talks with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to find a way out of the deadlock, but it is not clear if they can find a solution in the next few days.

If that doesn't work, May plans a series of votes in Parliament to see if a majority-backed strategy can emerge.

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