Brexit: European Council urges UK to 'not waste' extension period

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 11, 2019 10:56 hrs
Anti-Brexit protesters wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on Wednesday (local time) urged the United Kingdom to "not waste" the six-month extension granted to prevent 'no-deal' Brexit.

Tusk also expressed optimism that a deal would be reached at the end of the extension period.

Speaking after announcing an agreed extension until October 2019, with a review meeting in June, Tusk said, "Please do not waste this time. I am hopeful that a breakthrough can occur in this time."

Tusk clarified that the June meeting is just to "update on the progress" not to "decide another extension".

Playing down France's fear that the UK might cause "trouble", European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced that Britain will remain a full member till October 31 and will have to participate in the European Union's election on May 23.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated that Britain will leave the European Union (EU) earlier than October 31.

She also requested the UK Parliament to break the extension by passing her deal. She said if a deal is cleared before May 23, then the country will not have to hold the EU election.

The UK was due to leave on April 12 without a deal. However, the EU called a marathon emergency summit to prevent 'no deal' Brexit.

During the summit, the leaders exchanged views on Theresa May's Brexit deal and held lengthy discussions on the extension to allow more time for the UK to leave the EU without any agreement, CNN reported.

The UK was initially scheduled to leave the block on March 29, but during the last European Council meeting, the UK was provided with a two-tier deadline of May 27, should the withdrawal agreement be passed in the House of Commons, or April 12 if it did not.

While the British parliament has failed to reach an agreement on the deal, talks between May's Conservative party and the opposition Labour party have remained futile.

Last week, May met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to hold talks on a short delay to the Brexit process as well as preventing efforts to not allow the UK to leave the 28-member EU bloc without any deal.

On the same day, May flew to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, another leader of the EU, to support a delay to the Brexitprocess, but with conditions.

CNN quoted a spokesman for the French President as saying on Tuesday that an extension of up to a year would be "too long."

The spokesperson underlined that the Withdrawal Agreement finalised between May and the EU cannot be renegotiated and the UK should accept "strict conditions" if it was granted a delay to the Brexit process to June 30.

Notably, the British Parliament had rejected May's Brexit deal thrice. Parliamentarians have also rejected four alternative proposals for the UK's exit from the EU.