Brexit

Theresa May requests Brexit extension until June 30

File photo dated 01/03/18 of British prime minister Theresa May and European Council president Donald Tusk at Downing Street, London. Theresa May has written to Donald Tusk with the UK's request for a further delay to Brexit, as the European Council president has proposed to offer the UK a 12-month "flextension" 
Harriet Line, Press Association

Theresa May has written to European Council president Donald Tusk requesting an extension to Article 50 until June 30.

The British prime minister said she will seek to ratify her Withdrawal Agreement before the European Parliament elections on May 23, but will make "responsible preparations" to take part if that does not prove possible.

Britain is due to leave the European Union at the end of next week, but Mrs May is now seeking to delay Brexit for a second time after her deal was rejected for a third time last week.

In her letter, she wrote: "I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty.

"The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on 30 June 2019. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

"The government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible."

Mrs May said if ongoing talks with Labour do not lead to a "single unified approach soon" then the government would instead look to establish a "consensus" on options on a future relationship that could be put to the Commons.

She wrote: "The government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House, if the Opposition will commit to doing the same."

Read More: Further warnings about no-deal as Brexit deadline looms

It comes amid reports that EU officials are considering offering the PM a flexible extension - or "flextension" - to the Article 50 timetable.

Mr Tusk is preparing to put the option to EU leaders at a crunch summit next Wednesday in a bid to prevent the UK crashing out of the bloc on April 12, according to the BBC.

Top-level talks aimed at finding a way out of the Brexit deadlock will continue between the government and Labour today.

The discussions are taking place as Mrs May faces a week of hectic diplomacy as she battles to keep her EU withdrawal agenda on track.

As government talks with Labour on EU withdrawal went into another day, the issue of a new Brexit referendum continued to be a focus of attention.

Ministers have considered the possibility of giving MPs a vote on holding a referendum on a deal as part of the talks with Labour, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Talks aimed at finding a way out of the Brexit deadlock are continuing between the Government and Labour negotiating teams today.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that negotiations are "making progress", and both sides are hoping for "a creative solution" - which could include another referendum.

He added: "One of the solutions to break a parliamentary impasse is to ask the people to run their slide rule over Theresa May's deal.

"They can work out for themselves whether this deal works for them and their families."

Mr Watson revealed that Labour opened nominations on Thursday for candidates to stand in the European elections.

The question whether voters should be offered a "confirmatory" referendum on any compromise deal emerging from talks is hotly disputed at Westminster.

The Daily Telegraph reported that ministers have considered the possibility of giving MPs a vote on holding a referendum on a deal if that is needed to seal agreement with Labour.

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