London: British Prime Minister Theresa May will travel to Paris and Berlin on Tuesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to seek a “short extension to Brexit”, the media reported.
May will meet them ahead of an emergency European summit on Wednesday to make the case for extending Article 50 — the legal mechanism through which Brexit is taking place — for a few months, according to the Guardian.
The report said the UK leader could argue that “talks with opposition Labour Party are on the brink of a breakthrough”. However, no formal meetings were scheduled to restart negotiations, stalled at the end of last week.
“This is obviously a unique European council specifically focused on Brexit. The Prime Minister has set out a clear task in terms of an extension and it is important that she set out the rationale for that,” said May’s official spokeswoman.
Her request for Brexit extension till June 30 was earlier rejected and EU leaders said they would rather grant a longer extension of about a year, potentially with a break clause if the UK ratifies a deal during that time.
If no extension is granted, the UK is set to leave the EU without a deal on April 12. It could be stopped only through MPs voting for a revocation of Article 50.
Macron had also demanded earlier that May set out a clear purpose for an extension, which could be a general election or second referendum. But the Downing Street is likely to argue that talks with Labour are reason enough for a short delay, the Guardian says.
On Sunday, Rebecca Long-Bailey, a member of Labour’s negotiating team, described the mood (to find a Brexit deal) as “positive and hopeful” and indicated more talks were likely early this week. This was despite the fact government proposals “have not been compliant with the definition of a customs union”, the Labour’s key demand, she told the BBC.
That would allow tariff-free trade in goods with the EU, but limit the UK from striking its own deals. Long-Bailey also suggested Labour could be prepared to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 if the UK was heading towards a no-deal scenario on Friday.
Her remarks came after May tweeted a video message on Sunday, explaining her decision to negotiate with Labour. “We absolutely must leave the EU…that means we need to get a deal over the line and that’s why we’ve been looking for new ways — a new approach — to find an agreement in Parliament.
“People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often,” May said.