Government asks EU for Brexit extension to the end of June

Request comes after MPs rejected May's withdrawal agreement for the second time last week

Photo: BBC

By Matt Foster

20 Mar 2019

Theresa May has asked the European Union for a Brexit delay of up to three months today through an extension to Article 50.

The prime minister has written to today to formally ask for an extension from the UK's planned exit on 29 March, but she told MPs today she was "not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30 June".

Such an extension would rule out the possibility of the UK taking part in May's European elections. One Number 10 source told CSW’s sister title PoliticsHome: "She thinks that would do huge harm to public trust in politicians."


The prime minister faced an backlash from Brexit-supporting ministers at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, with ministers warning they would not stand for a lengthy delay to the UK's departure from the EU.

At a 90-minute Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, May gave every member the opportunity to set out their views on what she should do – although she refused to reveal what her own preference was.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier last night warned May against asking for a short extension while seeking a longer one as a backup.

Speaking at a press conference, the top EU official said any extension must be "linked to something new, a new political event, a new political process".

He added: "If not, what would the purpose and outcome be for an extension. And how can we ensure at the end of a possible extension we are not back in same situation?"

MPs last week rejected May's withdrawal agreement for the second time, and voted in favour of extending the Brexit process.

The prime minister had been hoping to put the agreement to a third vote this week, before Commons Speaker John Bercow intervened to say the government could not repeatedly bring the same deal back to the Commons.

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