UK Prime Minister Theresa May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk requesting another, short extension of the bedeviled process.
May said she wanted an extension to June 30 — a date rejected by the European Union when the UK last sought a delay — to give more time for cross-party negotiations over the political impasse in London.
It’s likely that the EU will propose a longer process instead. Tusk is understood to prefer a year-long extension, which could be shortened if and when the UK ratifies a withdrawal deal.
This so-called “flextension” will be offered at a European Council summit in Brussels next Wednesday, an EU diplomat familiar with the plan told CNN.
It’s not clear, however, if Tusk plan will will be favored by all EU member states. The diplomat said that “some ritual rumbling” could be expected. Those rumbles are likely to come from the French, who have previously opposed a long extension without a clear roadmap from the UK.
In any event, the UK must start preparing for elections to the European Parliament, which begin on May 23.
May acknowledged as much in her letter, writing that the UK government “accepts the European Council’s view” that it would be under a “legal obligation” to hold European Parliament elections. The elections would be canceled if a deal is reached before them, she said.
May noted that it was “frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion,” adding that the UK government “remains strongly committed to doing so, and will continue to act as a constructive and responsible member state of the European Union in according with the duty of sincere cooperation throughout this unique period.”