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Brexit: Theresa May 'clear' she wants short delay

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Ahead of meeting EU leaders, the UK PM is asked what she will do if they only grant a long extension.
Theresa May says she has "been clear" with the EU that she is only seeking a short delay to Brexit.Mrs May wants to postpone the UK's exit date beyond this Friday until 30 June - but EU leaders are expected to offer a longer delay, with conditions.Arriving at a summit in Brussels, the PM said she "greatly regrets" that the UK has not already left. Mrs May is due to address the other 27 EU leaders to make her request for an extension. The PM will then leave the meeting and the leaders will discuss her proposal over dinner.
Ahead of the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk said that "neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated", and urged the other 27 leaders to back a flexible extension of up to a year.Mrs May said that the UK could leave the EU when a deal is ratified by Parliament, and so the exit date could be by 22 May - the day before the European Parliament elections.
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Earlier, Mrs May appeared in the Commons for the weekly question session with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions.That head-to-head followed five days of talks between the government and Labour officials aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse.
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The UK is currently due to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday, 12 April. If no extension is granted, the default position would be for the UK to leave on Friday without a deal.So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year, but the Commons has also voted against leaving in a no-deal scenario.The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the "only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK" was for Parliament to agree the withdrawal agreement, and any extension "has to be useful and serve a purpose"."Our common purpose is to get the ratification of the withdrawal agreement," he added.
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Mrs May said she knew many people would be "frustrated that the summit is taking place at all", but its purpose was "to agree a deal to enable us to leave the EU in that smooth and orderly way".She said the "extra time" to get a deal through Parliament was "in everybody's interest".Asked if she would accept a longer extension than her proposal, she said: "I have asked for an extension to 30 June."But what is important is that any extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify the withdrawal agreement, so we could leave on 22 May and start to build our brighter future."The PM has previously said she was "not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June".
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Brexit: Theresa May 'clear' she wants short delay

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EU officials have prepared a draft document for the leaders to discuss at the summit - but the end date of the delay has been left blank for the EU leaders to fill in once deliberations have ended. BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said the blank space showed EU leaders were still divided on the issue.
The draft document from EU officials leaves the date of an extension blank
BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly said "much has been spelled out in advance", including the condition that if the UK remains a member of the EU at the end of May it will have to hold elections to the European Parliament or be forced to leave immediately.He added that, during the delay, the UK would be expected to commit to not disrupting EU business, such as the preparation of the next budget, and its influence "would be sharply reduced and its voice muted".
'Maintain unity'
Arriving in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the leaders needed to discuss Mrs May's request "openly and constructively", and she had "no doubt" there would be unity over an extension. She said: "The greatest interest for us is an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU and to maintain the unity of the 27."
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told reporters he was "very confident" an extension would be agreed
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not anticipate that the UK would leave the EU on Friday, and he was "very confident" that an extension will be agreed at the summit."What is still open is how long that extension will be and what the conditions will be," he added. "I believe the consensus here in Brussels and across the European Union will be to give the United Kingdom a little bit more time for the cross-party talks that are happening to conclude, and we can review the situation then in a few months' time."But French President Emmanuel Macron said "nothing is settled, and in particular no long extension".He said he was "impatient" to hear "clear proposals" from Mrs May, and leaders would need "a lot of calm, a lot of determination and a lot of sang-froid".President Macron added: "I believe deeply that we are carrying out a European rebirth, and I don't want the subject of Brexit to get in the way of that."
Theresa May
European Union
Brussels
Brexit
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