European leaders scramble for consensus ahead of Brexit emergency meeting

British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding last-minute talks with leaders Germany and France as she urges EU leaders to back her request for a Brexit delay until 30 June

UK Prime Minister Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May will be in Paris and Berlin today to meet French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of an EU leaders meeting on Wednesday.

The British Prime Minister is holding last-minute talks to urge EU leaders to back her request for a Brexit delay until 30 June.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on Friday at 11pm, unless it is given an extension, which depends solely on the decision EU leaders will take at an emergency meeting on Wednesday.

EU Council President Donald Tusk has proposed a flexible extension of up to one year with the option of the UK leaving at any time before that.

EU leaders had rejected a Brexit extension until 30 June at the last council meeting last month but giving Britain an extension until 12 April if the British parliament fails to agree on the withdrawal agreement.

May has failed to get her withdrawal agreement passed in the British parliament, which has also rejected the option to leave without a deal.

If May is granted an extension, the UK would have to organise the European Parliament election scheduled between 23 and 26 May, creating an added complication as to what would happen to British MEPs after Brexit.

Opinion in the EU on whether Britain should be given a new extension is divided. Macron put on the brakes on Tusk’s proposal earlier this week, an indication that any extension will probably come with tough conditions.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has so far not lifted the lid on where Malta stands on the matter but on Tuesday he spoke to May over the phone “to better understand UK request for further extension”.

In a tweet, Muscat said implementation of “sincere cooperation pledge” will be an important component of the EU Council decision.

Muscat also spoke on Tuesday with Irish Prime Minister Leo Vardakar. Ireland favours an extension of the Brexit deadline.