PARIS/BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders will grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit but they could demand she accepts a much longer extension as France pushed for conditions to limit Britain’s ability to undermine the bloc.
In a sign of just how far the three-year Brexit crisis has sapped British power, May dashed to Berlin and Paris to ask Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to allow the world’s fifth largest economy to put off its divorce from April 12.
While it was not immediately clear what Merkel and Macron, Europe’s two most powerful leaders, agreed with May, an advance draft of conclusions for Wednesday’s emergency EU summit said Britain would be granted another delay on certain conditions.
“The United Kingdom shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives,” read the draft seen by Reuters. As a full member state of the EU, Britain could in theory exercise a veto on any major policy decision.
May has asked the EU for a Brexit delay to June 30 but the draft left the end-date blank pending a decision by the other 27 national leaders on Wednesday in Brussels.
More than a week after Britain was originally supposed to leave the EU, May, the weakest British prime minister in a generation, has said she fears Brexit might never happen as she battles to get a divorce deal ratified by a divided parliament.
After her pledge to resign failed to get her deal over the line, she launched crisis talks with the opposition Labour Party in the hope of breaking the domestic deadlock.
“People are tired and fed up (with Britain’s indecision) –