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Donald Tusk floats long Brexit extension — for UK’s sake

Hold the conspiracy theories, it’s not a trap.

European Council President Donald Tusk prefers a long Brexit extension because he believes the U.K. needs time to build a national consensus, according to a senior EU official.

Tusk, who has long said he wishes the U.K. would change its mind and stay in the EU, tweeted this morning that he would urge EU leaders to consider granting a “long extension” if Prime Minister Theresa May and her government request one.

After the House of Commons voted Wednesday night to prevent a no-deal departure by Britain, May issued a limited list of extension alternatives, including a short, technical delay provided that MPs change their mind and ratify her deal; or a long extension of perhaps a year or more.

May said the long extension would require the U.K. to participate in the European Parliament election in May, and that she opposes that idea. “I do not think that would be the right outcome,” she said.

“He wants to end the current circus; he really doesn’t believe there will be any breakthrough in the short term” — Senior EU official

Tusk’s tweet, after he initially refrained from comment on the Commons vote on Wednesday night, immediately prompted speculation that he is trying to help May pressure hard-line Brexiteers into ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement reached in November. They fear that a long delay would prevent the U.K. from ever leaving the bloc.

But a senior official close to Tusk said that he was merely echoing and expanding on a view that he first expressed at an Arab League summit in Egypt late last month: that a delay would be a more “rational”

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