UK Prime Minister Theresa May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk to request to delay the UK‘s departure from the European Union by three months.
The UK is currently due to leave on March 29, but the British parliament has twice rejected May’s divorce deal with the EU, prompting concerns that the UK could exit the bloc without a deal.
On Monday, Speaker of the House John Bercow made a surprise decision to not allow a third “meaningful vote” on May’s Brexit plan, forcing the prime minister to seek an extension to allow time to revamp the deal.
Addressing MPs on Wednesday, May said she does not want a long extension that would potentially involve the UK taking part in elections to the European Parliament in late May, as doing so would fail to honour the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In her letter to Tusk, May said she would seek to delay the UK’s departure until June 30. Last week, British MPs voted in favour of a short extension to the deadline.
May wrote that she remained confident that British MPs would ratify the Brexit deal she negotiated with the bloc.
“But this clearly will not be completed before March 29,” she added.
May blamed Bercow and Parliament for failing to agree on a deal, saying Parliament had “indulged itself enough” on Brexit.
According to reports, May’s decision to seek a shorter delay also followed “heavy pressure” from pro-Brexit MPs in her party.
“If she’d gone to the EU and asked for a long extension, as indeed she’d said she was going to, she faced multiple resignations from her own cabinet,” Hull said.
Later on Wednesday, Shadow Brexit Minister Keir Starmer applied for an emergency debate in parliament on May’s decision to request the three-month delay, Bercow said.
Labour Party MP Starmer said the UK should use any delay to allow parliament to break the current impasse over Brexit, telling parliament he thought the responsible approach would be for May to “seek an extension to prevent no deal and provide time for parliament to find a majority for a different approach”.
The debate is scheduled for Wednesday evening and could last up to three hours.
The pound fell following May’s announcement, losing nearly one percent of its value on the day.