BRUSSELS – European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to extend the deadline for Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and the British Parliament.
Thursday's agreement effectively averted the possibility of a disorderly and possibly chaotic departure by Britain on March 29.
After hours of difficult and sometimes passionate talks, the leaders decided that Britain's exit will be pushed back to May 22 next week Mrs. May can persuade lawmakers in Parliament to accept their plan for leaving the bloc, which they have already overwhelmingly, not once but twice.
For a longer extension, though, it would be to take part in the May European Parliament – something Mrs. May said early Friday would be an absurdity, three years after Britons voted in a referendum to leave the bloc.
Speaking at a news conference after the extended deadlines were announced, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said that until April 12, "all options will remain open and the cliff- Edge date will be delayed. "
But there was no agreement in Parliament, and Britain had not indicated by April 12 that it would be willing to take part in the European elections automatically become impossible. "
The European leaders wanted to make sure that next week does not result in a crashing out of Britain, which both sides want, and they wanted to settle the issue extension now, without having to come back again for another ur gent meeting so close to March 29. The leaders thus made it clear that it is for Britain to make serious choices, and soon, and that failure should not be at the door of Brussels.
Took said, and agreed to the decision.
On Wednesday, she had made a formal request for an extension until European Parliament said:
Asked at the news conference on the atmosphere during discussions with Mrs. May, Mr. Tusk, who has diplomatically said that it was "much better than I expected" and said he was pleased that the long discussions had been "a way to ease the process for both sides. ''
Frustration with Britain's political dysfunction has become palpable in Brussels, which has become an integral part of the United States European leaders believe that Mrs. May has lost much of her authority, and they have lost faith in Brexit.
Mrs. May's plan would eventually give Britain's power over immigration from Europe, but it will not be until the end of 2020.
Speaking after the meeting, Mrs. May insisted that Britain would leave the European
"At this point we would either leave with no deal, or put forward an alternative plan," she said, adding that would mean participating
It was not possible to exclude that option, by saying they would work with lawmakers.
Brexit is real.
Brexit is real.
"Our country is facing a national emergency," the main British business and trade union grouping, the Confederation of British Industry and the United Kingdom the Trades Union Congress said in a rare joint statement.
"Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar," the statement said. "Firms and communities across the U.K. are not ready for this outcome.
In Brussels on Thursday, European officials were hosting talks with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labor Party, which wants to be closer to the European Union than do Mrs. May's Conservatives and could play a critical role in the way things unfold in London.
If Mrs. May, against the odds, succeeds in Parliament next week, then matters move relatively smoothly, with a modest delay to Brexit to allow for enacting legislation to put in place in place. But the prime minister's angry denunciation of lawmakers in a national address
The Europeans do not want to be responsible for the disaster of a deal exit.
Britain has the power to withdraw its decision to leave the bloc – as opposed to requesting an extension of negotiations – and could do that unilaterally. Yet it is almost impossible to imagine.
There is pressure on Mrs. May, whose position is considered weak. She could face a leadership crisis, especially if she tried to pursue a no-deal Brexit.
And resigning would be out of character for a leader who by nature and character has come to scorn, humiliation and divisions as she pursues what she considers to be Britain's best version of Brexit.
Dalia Grybauskaite, the outspoken president of Lithuania, favors patience with Britain. "We want to be supportive to the prime minister, in any way we can," she said. "
" Ms. Grybauskaite said. "We need to be prepared for everything, but of course we will do everything to find a solution."