EU Grants U.K. 6-Month Brexit Extension, May Presses Lawmakers to Find Consensus

The U.K. was set to leave the European Union this Friday without a deal.


By Claire Hansen, U.S. News & World Report

April 11, 2019


British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday touted the importance of compromise and once again implored U.K. lawmakers to find consensus as quickly as possible after the bloc granted the U.K. a flexible six-month delay for its departure from the European Union.


The extension pushes the Brexit date from Friday to Oct. 31 and averts a chaotic no-deal Brexit in the process. Under the rules, the U.K. can leave the bloc any time before the October date if lawmakers approve a plan for departure.


The delay is longer than May wanted. May asked the EU for a postponement until June 30 and said she would prefer that the U.K. not take part in EU elections at the end of May. Under the new Oct. 31 deadline, the U.K. will be required to participate in EU elections should lawmakers not approve a leave plan before May 22 a scenario that seems likely given the current deadlock in Parliament. If the U.K. does not participate in EU elections, it will leave the EU without a Brexit deal on June 1, EU leaders stipulated.


"The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear," May told lawmakers in the House of Commons hours after the extension was announced. "I believe we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest."


May encouraged lawmakers to find a path forward before May 22 so Britain could avoid voting in EU elections.


In an address after Wednesday's EU Council meeting, Donald Tusk, the EU Council president, told the U.K., "do not waste this time."


"The course of action will be entirely in the U.K.'s hands," Tusk said.


May's Conservative government and the opposition Labour Party began talks last week in an attempt to hash out a mutually agreeable outline for the future of the U.K.'s relationship with the EU. The Labour Party, which is advocating for a future customs union with the EU, has accused May's government of being so-far unwilling to compromise.


May had been adamant that the withdrawal plan she negotiated with the EU would need to be part of any deal. The withdrawal plan lays out the details for the U.K.'s departure from the bloc but does not outline the EU and U.K.'s future relationship. The EU has said that the withdrawal plan is not up for renegotiation but...