Frank Augstein / AP
In the corridors of the European Building in Brussels, European Union officials gathered around a small table to determine the fate of the country that voted in favor of its rejection.
UK. Prime Minister Theresa May was banished to another room while the rest were contemplating: would May apply for the months-long extension she had asked to take time to negotiate a Brexit withdrawal agreement with Parliament?
Eventually, May got an extension – but not the one she was hoping for. After several hours of negotiations the heads of state and government of the 27 remaining European Union countries unanimously agreed Thursday to postpone the deadline for the UK's 29 March exit from the political bloc. The EU. offered two alternative deadlines – one if the UK legislator can agree on a way forward and one if that is not possible.
If Prime Minister Theresa May can convince MPs to accept their Brexit conditions, the country has time to make it through May 22, one day before the European Parliament elections begin. However, if May can not persuade the legislator to agree to the deal, which has already been rejected twice, the country will only be given two weeks until April 12 to clarify the next steps.
According to Donald Tusk, European Council President: "In practice, this means that by then all options remain open and the date of the cliff is delayed." The UK government now has effectively four options, he said: "Deal, no-deal, a long extension or revocation of Article 50". Article 50 contains the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon which allowed Great Britain to voluntarily leave the union.
If the UK can not figure out what it is doing by 12 April, "the option of a long extension automatically becomes impossible." Tusk said.
In practice, a non-decision by 12 April could mean an abrupt end to EU membership with continued political and economic uncertainty for both parties.
After meeting with EU May said that Britain would definitely leave the block. If Parliament rejects its proposal once again, "either we would not be making a deal or presenting an alternative plan," she told the New York Times.
But E.U. Those in charge felt that May's enthusiasm showed that they were not in contact with the political situation, the Washington Post reported. A diplomat told the Post that May's assessments were "a bit like coming from another planet".
A petition on Parliament's website calling for the repeal of Article 50 – essentially the removal of the entire Brexit – has already resulted in more than 2 million signatures. However, in May it said it would "not support" revoking Article 50. A spokeswoman told the Guardian that "disregarding the vote would be a failure of our democracy" and unacceptable for May.