EU Pushes For Long Brexit Delay As PM May Tours European Capitals Before Wednesday Summit

Getty Images

The President of the European Council has published an open letter to European leaders explaining why the European Union should ignore British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for a Brexit extension to June, and give a full year instead.

The letter from the top Eurocrat comes as Theresa May spends Tuesday in talks with the French President and German Chancellor in their respective capital cities ahead of Wednesday’s special meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

After failing to sell her Brexit deal to Parliament, May has gone back on her previous promises to take Britain out of the European Union on March 29th 2019 with or without a deal, and is now seeking a second extension to push the official withdrawal date into the future.

While the Prime Minister appears to prefer a series of short extensions, top Eurocrat Tusk appears to reject this approach, insisting on one long extension instead. Remarking that “There are times when you need to give time time”, Tusk wrote Tuesday of May’s request to extend to June 30th:

“…our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the House of Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June. In reality, granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates. This, in turn, would almost certainly overshadow the business of the EU27 in the months ahead.”

Tusk’s reference to Brexit holding up other European business, and other remarks later in his letter referring to ways to sideline this, reflect apparent serious concerns by France’s Macron, who sees the continued failure of the Brexit process as overshadowing his attempts to reform Europe. A political analysis published by London’s Times newspaper Tuesday reports that the overly technocratic messaging coming from a European totally consumed by the Brexit process means the Union risks appearing to voters “even more out of touch than it is now”.

The paper reported: “Mr Macron is already said to be fed up with European summits devoted to Brexit rather than to his own plans for EU reform.”

For this reason, and a host of others, the French President is now said to be considering blocking Theresa May’s request for any further extension to get past the distraction of Brexit from his grand project. But going by recent European political history, characterised by fudges and compromise, suggests this is unlikely.

The British Prime Minister has now finished meeting with President Macron and spoke with Angela Merkel this morning. A government spokesman said of business so far:

The prime minister met with President Macron in Paris this afternoon, ahead of the EU Council meeting tomorrow. Following the prime minister’s letter to Donald Tusk last week, the leaders discussed the UK’s request for an extension of article 50 to 30 June, with the option to bring this forward if a deal is ratified earlier.

The prime minister updated President Macron on the ongoing talks with the [Labour party] to agree a way forward that respects the result of the 2016 referendum.

They also discussed upcoming European parliamentary elections with the PM saying that the government was working very hard to avoid the need for the UK to take part.

The leaders also discussed the ongoing situation in Libya. The PM expressed her deep concern about the recent escalation and said it was important for the international community to work together to bring an end to the violence.

A draft European Union report seen by British journalist Faisal Islam lays out the requirements the European Union expects of the United Kingdom in return for any further delay. Among them are participating in the May 2019 European Union elections which the UK government has already put in place preparations for, and not reopening negotiations on the withdrawal deal Theresa May was given by the EU.

Further to those, the paper also demands the United Kingdom acts “in a constructive and responsible manner… in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation.” The requirement comes after senior British Brexiteers threatened to be as “difficult as possible” towards Europe if Britain was forced to stay inside the Union against its own will. Suggestions by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage included vetoing the EU budget, obstructing the EU army, and causing trouble in the European Parliament.

The latest to join that fight is Tory Brexiteer and rising star Mark Francois, who delivered a message to European leaders Tuesday afternoon when he said at an event hosted by the Bruges Group:

If you now try to hold us in against our will, you will be facing Perfidious Albion on speed.

It would, therefore, be much better for all our sakes if we were to pursue our separate destinies, in a spirit of mutual respect.

This is the 21st century, and you cannot hold a nation captive against their will… if you attempt to hold us in the European Union against our will we will become a Trojan Horse within the EU…

Threatening a new Conservative government led by a Brexiteer like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab, Mr Francois said a United Kingdom trapped in the EU would seek to make a nuisance of itself by blocking future attempts at federalising the Union and creating a single military — which the UK has historically done.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.