Tusk suggests Brexit delay of up to year

Theresa May will meet German chancellor Angela Merkel

British Prime Minister Theresa May's request for a short Brexit extension request to 30 June 30 was met with a mixed reaction by the remaining 27 European Union members, most of whom remain divided on the issue.

"If they fail, the prime minister has said that we will come back to Parliament and look at how we then get clarity on a vote", Barclay told the BBC.

He said the United Kingdom could still leave before that date if it got an agreement through Parliament in time and that ministers were committed to leaving at the "earliest opportunity".

Earlier, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay insisted ministers were committed to taking Britain out of the European Union at the "earliest opportunity".

But others - notably Germany and Britain's close neighbour Ireland - worry that if May runs out of time then a dramatic "no deal" Brexit would do more harm in the long run.

While the talks were taking place in London, May undertook a diplomatic push in Berlin and Paris in a bid to secure another extension to the negotiating process, despite being unable to present the credible alternative Brexit plan the European Union said it required to sanction such a move.

EU members want to ensure that a semi-detached Britain does not seek leverage in Brexit talks by intervening in choosing the next head of the European Commission or the next multi-year EU budget.

"This is not our desired outcome but we are not afraid of it".

The Prime Minister has been cosying up to Labour as she attempts to rally their support to get some kind of consensus in the Commons.

Discussions in Brussels are to focus on the length of the delay - the French source said a 12-month extension "seems too long" - and arrangements to limit Britain's influence within the EU. "That is why the request today is to June 30 in order that we can leave as soon as possible", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

In contrast, pro-EU Justice Secretary David Gauke suggested she could carry on until she has taken the country through the current phase of the negotiations and Britain has finally left the EU.

He called for the European Council to discuss an alternative, longer extension, such as a "flexible extension" lasting "as long as necessary and no longer than one year".

"Our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the House of Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June".

Mr Tusk wrote: "The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready".

The Brussels chief said: "Importantly, a long extension would provide more certainty and predictability by removing the threat of constantly shifting cliff-edge dates".

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