European leaders will gather in Brussels later on Wednesday to decide on the United Kingdom’s immediate future in the European Union.
The president of the European Council, representing the member states, is recommending that they accord a much longer delay to Brexit than the British prime minister is officially seeking. Theresa May, with parliamentary backing, has asked for an extension until June 30.
Donald Tusk has written to EU leaders to suggest that the UK’s exit be delayed by up to a year, saying that “one possibility would be a flexible extension” allowing it to be cut short if the negotiated withdrawal deal is ratified.
He explained why he thought May’s request for a shorter extension should be rejected. “Our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the House of Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June,” Tusk wrote.
A draft EU document circulated ahead of the summit also proposes a flexible extension but leaves the exit date blank.