Outrage as Theresa May seeks another extension to Brexit date
Striving to secure the opposition Labour’s support to pass EU withdrawal agreement, Prime Minister Theresa May again sought an extension from the European Council on Friday until June 30, a date Brussels has previously rejected, raising hackles among pro and anti-Brexit elements.
The council is due to decide on the latest request on Wednesday at an emergency summit, but reports from Brussels say a year-long extension is likely to be offered with the proviso that the UK could leave the EU before its end when the withdrawal package clears parliament.
As talks with Labour continue, May wrote to council president Donald Tusk that if the UK is unable to secure parliamentary approval before May 23 – the date of elections to the European parliament – it will make “responsible preparations” to participate in the elections.
Seeking another extension with the possibility of holding elections to the European parliament riled many, since it goes against May’s intention in March that she is against the UK participating in the elections. The current Brexit date is April 12.
Senior Labour leader Margaret Beckett said: “The good news is that the prime minister has accepted there has to be an extension to the Brexit deadline. The bad news is that yet again she has chosen the worst option and done so for the worst reason – just to keep her failed strategy and her Brexit deal alive”.
“She is taking both the British people and EU leaders for fools because we all know this is just another time-buying, can-kicking effort to hold her bitterly divided party together. Most ludicrously of all, Theresa May—who has been saying that holding European parliamentary elections would somehow be an affront to democracy – is now setting in motion plans for such a campaign”.
May wrote to Tusk that it has been “frustrating” that her government has not been able to conclude the Brexit process in an orderly fashion, adding that “this impasse cannot be allowed to continue”.
She wrote: “In the UK it is creating uncertainty and doing damage to faith in politics, while the European Union has a legitimate desire to move on to decisions about its own future”.