May urges Parliament to finally support her deal

'We must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach consensus on a deal that is in the national interest,’ Mrs May said.

United Kingdom’s (UK) prime minister Theresa May on Thursday agreed to the six-month extension the European Union offered (EU) to delay Brexit until October 31 and urged the British Parliament to support her Brexit deal.

‘The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade parliament to approve the deal,’ said Mrs May in a news conference, according to a Reuters report.

‘I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension…But the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear. So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.’

Mrs May admitted that she would not pretend that the next few weeks ‘will be easy or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in parliament’.

Members of Parliament in London have already rejected Mrs May’s divorce deal three times since she agreed the deal with the EU last November.

The EU on Thursday agreed to extend Brexit until October 31 in a ‘flexible extension’, a decision which will give Britain a breathing room of six months to sort out their decision on leaving the EU.

In this period, the UK can rectify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated. It can also reconsider the whole Brexit strategy, leading to changes in the political declaration, or even revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether.

Getting the deal moved

Mrs May’s ministers are said to have begun cross-party talks with main opposition Labour Party in a bid to find a way through to get the withdrawal agreement accepted by the House of Commons.

The postponement of Brexit till after the European elections might draw fire on Mrs May because she had promised she would not accept any delay beyond June 30 that would involve the UK having to take part in the European elections.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants Britain to commit to remaining within the EU customs union, an idea that many in Europe would be keen to accommodate, said AFP.

Leaving before the European elections

Mrs May told reporters at the emergency EU summit at Brussels on Wednesday she had asked for an extension till June 30, but what was important was any extension that allows the UK to leave at the point at which the country confirms the withdrawal agreement.

She said that she still hoped to leave the EU on May 22, which is the last day before the UK holds the European Parliament elections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the extension till the end of October gave the UK the best chance of an orderly Brexit.

‘The decisive point was when will the British Parliament consent to the withdrawal agreement and we made it clear that that exit agreement applies and will not be changed’, she said in a news conference after the meeting with EU leaders.

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