Theresa May asks EU for Brexit delay

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 1038 GMT (1838 HKT) March 21, 2019
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8:36 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

May: It's time Parliament faces the consequences

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Theresa May to compromise on her Brexit plan in order to get a withdrawal agreement through Parliament.

"Will the Prime Minister drop the red lines? Is she prepared to compromise to get through this crisis?" Corbyn asked.

May replied that the House has "voted on and rejected" a second referendum, a no-deal Brexit, Labour's deal, and a departure that kept Britain in a customs union, but has "voted on and supported leaving with a deal".

It's time this Parliament faced the consequences.
8:32 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

BREAKING: May's letter asking for a Brexit extension

Downing Street has released the text of Theresa May's letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk. It asks for an extension to the Brexit process until 30 June – after the European elections, which May says it would be "unacceptable" for the UK to take part in.

CNN's Luke McGee notes two significant dates: May 23 and April 11.

Why this is important: Elections to the European Parliament are due to begin across Europe on May 23. Some legal experts suggest the UK can't extend the Brexit process beyond this point without taking part in those elections. Others say the UK can remain in the EU until the new parliamentary session begins on July 1 – hence the UK's request for a delay until the day before.

The second significant date is April 11. This is the date by which the UK Parliament must legislate to take part in those European elections. That means Brexit must be resolved one way or another by then.

8:35 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Opposition leader says UK is in a "full-scale national crisis"

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn began his questions to the Prime Minister by saying May has led the UK into a "full-scale national crisis."

Incompetence, failure and intransigence from the Prime Minister have brought us to this point.

Corbyn adds that he will be meeting MPs today and leaders in Brussels tomorrow in an effort to break the deadlock. "Will the Prime Minister meet me today?" he asks.

May says she will meet with anyone to discuss Europe – but says "it's a bit rich" for Corbyn to ask for another meeting, given that Corbyn had previously refused to meet May after her first "meaningful vote" on her deal was rejected.

8:15 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

May confirms request for Brexit delay until June 30

Theresa May has told the House of Commons that the delay she has requested from the European Union will extend the Brexit process until June 30.

"I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th June," the Prime Minister said.

Taking part in May's European elections would be unacceptable, and would not be in anyone's interest, she added.

8:03 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Prime Minister faces questions in parliament

Prime Minister's Questions is starting now in the House of Commons.

8:08 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

The EU still hasn't received May's letter

May's all-important letter to the EU, asking for an extension to the Brexit process, still hasn't been received in Brussels, a senior EU official told CNN.

That means European leaders have been unable to address the question of the delay, because it's unclear exactly what May is asking them for.

May will head to Brussels to join EU leaders on Thursday, but time is running out for her request to be submitted and discussed before European leaders take a final decision.

And yet more uncertainty could follow Wednesday's emergency debate in parliament, known as an SO24 -- if the motion is approved by MPs, it would force May to change the wording of the letter to ask for a longer extension.

7:12 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Parliament could force May to ask for longer extension


Speculation is brewing in Westminster over a move that could throw Theresa May's Brexit plan into further chaos.

An application for an emergency debate on May's Brexit extension request is set to be made later Wednesday, CNN has confirmed. If the debate goes ahead and is supported by lawmakers, it would force the Prime Minister to change the wording of her letter to the EU and ask for a longer Brexit extension, rather than a short one.

What this means: The application is set to be made by opposition Labour MP Alison McGovern. Emergency debates can be requested under Standing Order No. 24, or SO24.

If the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, approves the request, a debate and vote would follow on whether to force May's hand.

The plan would need the support of the Labour front bench for it to succeed. Asked if the party would support the move, a spokesperson told the Press Association: "The Prime Minister should make a statement. If she doesn't we will support all measures to force a debate in Parliament on this matter."

If the emergency debate is supported, parliament would take control of the Brexit extension request -- but ultimately, whether the requested extension is a long or short one, the final decision on whether to accept it still lies with the EU.

7:40 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

"The end of the road has been reached," says Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German public radio that “the end of the road has now been reached" on Brexit. "There is no more 'more,'" he said.

Asked by Deutschlandradio about a possible shorter extension period of Brexit, Juncker said: "These months in the end have to bring about an approval by the British Parliament for the present treaty text.

"If this does not happen and Great Britain does not leave at the end of March as foreseen, then we are -- and I don’t like saying this -- in God’s hands. But I believe God’s patience is wearing thin," he added.

6:56 a.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Decision on delay unlikely this week, Juncker says


Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has told German public radio he does not believe a decision on Theresa May's Brexit extension request will be made this week.

Speaking to Deutschlandfunk Wednesday morning, Juncker said he isn't counting on a decision at the EU council meeting Thursday. There would likely be consultations again next week about a possible delay, he said.

According to DLF, Juncker said the EU had made large gestures towards Great Britain, and now London needs to provide clarity.

There would be no post-negotiations, no new negotiations and no further assurances, Juncker said.