The Prime Minister takes her latest request to Brussels today but European Council president Donald Tusk has told the heads of the 27 remaining member states there was “little reason to believe” that the ratification of the Prime Minister’s beleaguered deal could be completed by the end of June. Mr Tusk called for the European Council to discuss an alternative, longer extension, such as a “flexible extension” lasting “as long as necessary and no longer than one year”.
The EU president warned “neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated at any stage in this difficult process”.
But the delay has enraged Tory hardliners with her visits to Berlin and Paris yesterday and Brussels later today described as “humiliating”.
Tory Brexiteers branded the Prime Minister a “traitor” at a noisy meeting of the eurosceptic Bruges Group thinktank in London where Mark Francois, the vice-chairman of the ERG, said Britons could not be “held captive against their will”.
Mr Francois warned the EU that trying to keep the UK in the bloc for longer would create “perfidious Albion on speed” and a “Trojan horse within the EU, which will utterly derail all your attempts to pursue a more federal project”.
The unanimous agreement of all 27 remaining EU states is needed to avoid a no deal Brexit on at 11pm on Friday.
Mrs May will face the Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions at noon today before heading for Brussels where she is expected to meet Mr Tusk ahead of the summit.
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8.18am update: Austria backs Brexit delay
Austria’s foreign minister said she believed a Brexit extension for the UK would be agreed by the EU.
Karin Kneissl told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In principle, I’m of the impression that this is somehow settled.
“But, still, I assume that a lot of conditions might be attached.”
7.30am update: Industry chiefs urge Brussels to help avoid no deal Brexit
Industry groups representing companies across Europe are calling on EU leaders to help avoid a no deal Brexit, warning of the economic damage it would cause.
Ceemet, which represents metal, engineering and technology employers in Europe, and manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, have sent a joint letter to the EU 27 member heads of state, and chief negotiator Michel Barnier, saying companies wanted no-deal to be taken off the table.
Lack of preparation from the UK and the EU has left manufacturers “woefully unprepared” for a “cliff-edge” ending to the Brexit negotiations, it was warned.
Ceemet director general Uwe Combuchen said: “EU and UK Governments have a responsibility to ensure minimal disruption for businesses, for employers and employees.”