Theresa May to ask Merkel and Macron for Brexit delay
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to argue for a Brexit delay while her ministers hold crisis talks with Labour to try to break the deadlock in London.
Britain’s departure from the EU has already been delayed once but May is asking for yet more time as she courts veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, whose opposition Labour Party wants to keep Britain more closely tied to the bloc after Brexit.
“The Prime Minister has not yet moved off her red lines so we can reach a compromise,” Corbyn said ahead of further talks between his team and government ministers on Tuesday.
While May travels to Berlin and Paris ahead of an emergency EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, British lawmakers will hold a 90-minute debate on her proposal to delay Britain’s EU departure date to June 30 from April 12.
The debate has been forced on the government by parliament passing a law on Monday which will give lawmakers the power to scrutinize and even make legally binding changes to May’s request to extend the Article 50 negotiating period again.
Labour’s demands include keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU, something which is hard to reconcile with May’s desire for Britain to have an independent trade policy.
The Telegraph reported Labour and the government were still discussing both a customs union and the idea of holding a confirmatory referendum on any deal they agree.
Both ideas are anathema to many in May’s party, whose rebels have helped trigger three parliamentary defeats of the withdrawal deal she negotiated with the EU last year.
“I’ve said many times before, we can be more, much more ambitious in our future relationship with the UK,” EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a news conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Monday.