British PM asks EU to delay Brexit; Tusk proposes flexible 12-month period

British PM asks EU to delay Brexit; Tusk proposes flexible 12-month period

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the European Union (EU) on Friday (Apr 5) to delay Britain's departure until Jun 30, with the withdrawal happening earlier if parliament approves her Brexit deal.

"The United Kingdom proposes that (the extension) should end on June 30 2019. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the government proposes that the period should be terminated earlier," Mrs May wrote in a letter to EU Council president Donald Tusk.

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

"The government's policy has always been, and remains, to leave the EU in an orderly way, and without undue delay," May wrote.

"The government agrees that leaving with a deal is the best outcome."

READ: Commentary: The depressing costs of Brexit to Britain

DONALD TUSK LIKELY TO PROPOSE FLEXIBLE DELAY

According to a senior EU official, Tusk will likely suggest to member states on Friday that they offer Britain a flexible 12-month Brexit delay to allow it time to prepare for an orderly withdrawal.

"This is Tusk's idea," a senior EU official told AFP, in response to news reports. "It will be be presented to member states today."

READ: Pound steadies as London seeks new Brexit delay

As things stand, Britain is due to leave the European Union at midnight on Apr 12. The deadline has already been pushed back once from Mar 29 because of the UK parliament's failure on three occasions to agree on the deal Mrs May signed with the other 27 EU leaders in December.

If the House of Commons ratifies Mrs May's withdrawal agreement, Britain could leave before the year is up.

But if Britain is still a member when the bloc holds elections for the European Parliament on May 23, it will need to take part in the poll and send another batch of MEPs to Strasbourg.

Source: AFP/Reuters/aa(mi)

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