May discusses Brexit delay with Merkel, turns attention to Macron

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May discusses Brexit delay with Merkel, turns attention to Macron

by - 3 min read

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British Prime Minister Theresa May met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for about 1½ hours Tuesday as she seeks European leaders’ approval for another delay to Brexit.

May and Merkel made no comment to reporters as they left together and embraced. Merkel waved to May as her car set off.

A spokesperson for May later released a statement saying the prime minister outlined to Merkel the steps she was taking to bring “the Brexit process to a successful conclusion” and on discussions with the opposition Labour Party.

May will head to Paris later Tuesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who has appeared to take a tougher line on giving Britain more time. May has asked for a new delay until June 30.

May will tell EU leaders she is asking for an extension to press on with talks with the Labour Party to secure approval in Parliament for her Brexit deal, her spokesperson said.

“She set out in the letter [to the EU] the fact that she is holding cross-party discussions with the leader of the opposition to try to seek a way forward which can carry a stable majority in Parliament. Those negotiations are ongoing … there are further talks today,” the spokesperson told reporters.

“The prime minister will be able to point to those talks, she will also be able to talk to the fact that she remains certain that there is a majority in Parliament for the U.K. leaving the European Union with a deal.”

May’s Conservative government and the Labour Party have been trying to find a compromise Brexit deal before EU leaders decide Wednesday whether to grant a second extension to the U.K.’s departure. If they refuse, Britain faces a sudden and chaotic departure on Friday, the deadline set a few weeks ago by the EU.

‘Substantial steps’ needed, German official says

Earlier, a senior German official demanded “substantial steps” forward in Britain’s Brexit standoff and insisted on Tuesday that any further delay to Britain’s withdrawal must come with strict conditions, as Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to plead for more time in Berlin and Paris.

“We are in a very, very frustrating situation here,” Michael Roth, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, said as he arrived at a European Union meeting in Luxembourg.

European officials are already signalling that they’re not keen to give Britain a blank cheque, though they also want to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

“We expect finally to have substantial steps in the right direction — so far absolutely nothing has changed,” Roth said. “We are of course considering an extension, also a longer extension, but it must be linked to very strict criteria,” he added, insisting that Britain can’t speculate about not participating in the May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament.

Roth said that “within the European Union, there isn’t an endless readiness to keep talking about delays so long as there is no substantial progress on the British side.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that officials in other EU countries “will want to encourage” the Conservative-Labour talks in London.

“But they’ll also want to see a clear plan in terms of how an extension can deliver the result that we all want, which is a managed and sensible Brexit.”

This story originally appeared on CBC

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