The European Union has decided to allow the United Kingdom more time to exit the bloc, Reuters reported quoting from updated conclusions from the EU Summit in Brussels. The duration of the delay, however, will depend on whether the United Kingdom Parliament votes in favour of the exit agreement.
Prime Minister Theresa May told UK parliamentarians that Britain has asked European Union leaders to delay Brexit till June 30. Britain is supposed to exit the bloc on March 29.
The bloc has purportedly agreed to grant the United Kingdom an extension up to May 22 if the British Parliament approves the existing Brexit withdrawal deal, The Guardian reported. If not, the European Union will give the United Kingdom until April 12 to exit from the bloc. “The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week,” Reuters quoted from the updated draft of the EU leaders’ agreement on Brexit.
Any delay in Brexit is subject to the approval of all 27 countries of the European Union. May herself voted to delay Brexit on March 14. May had said on Wednesday that a further delay would mean Britain will have to hold European Parliament elections.
French President Emmanuel Macron said, “The EU in a very clear manner has today responded to a British political crisis,” The Guardian reported. “The British politicians are incapable to put in place what their people have demanded. Their people voted for Brexit.”
The United Kingdom Parliament had voted against a no-deal Brexit by a narrow margin of 312-308 on March 13. After lawmakers rejected May’s previous Brexit proposal on March 12, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party had called for a general election to allow the public to decide who should lead them into the next phase of Brexit.
The UK and the EU have differed over the terms of an Irish backstop, which is a “safety net” to preserve a border without customs and regulatory checks through a series of measures. British and European Union leaders had earlier committed to avoiding a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. Pro-Brexit leaders in May’s Conservative Party insist that the backstop would make it impossible for Britain to leave the EU.
On January 15, the UK Parliament had voted to reject May’s deal by 230 votes, the biggest defeat for a government in modern British history.
‘Cancel Brexit’ petition crosses 2 million mark, crashes UK website
An online petition to “cancel Brexit” or revoke Article 50 and let the United Kingdom remain within the European Union has crossed the 2 million threshold on a government website. The unprecedented footfall on the website caused it to temporarily crash.
May’s spokesperson, however, said that the prime minister “has said many times she will not countenance revoking Article 50”.
“The PM has long been clear that failing to deliver on the referendum result would be a failure of democracy and a failure she wouldn’t countenance,” the spokesperson said.
A post on the website said that Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 1 lakh signatures for a debate.
The petitions committee apologised for the problems on the website. “Thanks so much for your patience,” House of Commons-appointed committee tweeted. “As you can tell, people are signing petitions really quickly. The sudden spikes in usage are causing intermittent problems, but we are doing everything we can.”