Reports from a meeting of European Union foreign ministers show member states are mostly opposed to a demand by Britain for another short delay to a withdrawal deadline imposed by the bloc, as top diplomats insist any extension to UK membership should be a long one accompanying some strict conditions.
The Guardian newspaper said in a Tuesday report from the meeting in Luxemburg that EU capitals were in favor of granting the UK a long membership extension until the end of the year rather than accepting Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for a delay to Brexit until June 30.
Britain had been supposed to leave the EU at the end of last month. It managed to extend the negotiations until April 12 in the hope it could pass a divorce deal in the parliament. May is now seeking a fresh delay as her government and the opposition Labour Party are trying to find a way out of the parliamentary impasse.
European Union leaders will begin a summit on Wednesday to discuss London’s demand for a two-month extension. May was on a tour of Berlin and Paris on Tuesday to convince German and France leaders about her plans to conclude the Brexit process in the near future. There was no clear mention of a compromise in those meetings although May’s office said it was hopeful the EU would accept delaying Brexit until the end of June.
However, the Guardian said it had seen a leaked document of the meeting of EU ministers in Luxemburg which showed that there was a growing support for the idea of a lengthy extension rather than a short one. It cited sources as saying that a Brexit delay of around nine months was now looking likely.
The report said ministers had also demanded that any extension to Britain’s membership in the bloc should come with conditions, including the need for Britain to be engaged in sincere cooperation with the bloc and not try to disrupt key legislation of the bloc which needs unanimity while London should show its commitment to holding European Parliament elections in May.
May’s desperate attempts to secure a new delay comes as she is trying to avoid a hard Brexit on Friday, a scenario which could have dire economic implications for Britain.