Brexit showdown as May seeks Article 50 delay

Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference after the European Council in Brussels where European Union leaders met to discuss Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference after the European Council in Brussels where European Union leaders met to discuss Brexit

"I think what is likely to happen is the pressure for her to go will go up", the former Brexit secretary told the BBC's Today programme.

Mrs May had begged them to postpone Britain's departure until June 30 while she talks to Jeremy Corbyn - but this was rejected, leaving the PM in a precarious position having repeatedly said she could not "countenance" Britain staying in the European Union after that date.

The European Council decision also states that in the event a Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by 22 May 2019 and the United Kingdom is still a Member of the EU on 23-26 May 2019, it is obliged to hold European Parliament elections.

Macron addressed the press at the end of the meeting, calling the conclusion the "best compromise possible", adding that the October 31 deadline "protects us", because it was "a key date, before the installation of the new European Commission".

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said the latest extension represented not only a "diplomatic failure" but also another milestone in the government's handling of the entire Brexit process. A review of progress will be held in June.

It found that 51% of Britons would like a referendum to be held on the deal once negotiations between the Government and the European Union have come to an end.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Tracey said: "Do you agree with me that if the best way to do that, rather than deliver the diluted deal which is unrecognisable to many of us who voted to leave, is to go under WTO rules, then we should grab that opportunity and believe in the ability of the British people and the Conservative Government to make a success of it?"

Merkel argued that a short delay would not offer any prospect of the impasse in Westminster being broken and the delay should instead end on 31 December. "I think it's a awful deal".

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"The key for us is to remain grouped together", Macron said.

"We did the best possible compromise to preserve the unity of the 27 (other European Union members) because we have left the United Kingdom more time to deliver a deal", Macron said.

Mrs May hit back, saying she was "proud to lead a Government that has seen more children in good schools, more doctors, more jobs, lower borrowing, lower unemployment, lower taxes".

Macron insisted on clarity from May about what Britain wants, warning: "Nothing should compromise the European project".

The prime minister also asked the leaders to avoid a situation in which she would have to return to Brussels to ask for a further extension.

The European Union has agreed to delay the United Kingdom's departure from the EU, known as Brexit, until October 31.

The agreement mean Britain will not crash out of the bloc on Friday and will give Mrs May more than the three months she had asked for to build a parliamentary majority behind the withdrawal treaty she negotiated with the European Union previous year. May asked for a short delay until the end of June, but Tusk proposed a delay of as long as a year.

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