Theresa May prepares to head to Europe to seek a Brexit extension

The EU will demand Theresa May accepts a Brexit delay of at least nine months when she arrives in Brussels tomorrow evening, with leaders arguing there was "little reason to believe" any exit agreement can emerge from the chaos of Westminster before the summer.

Britain's Parliament has passed a law created to ensure the country does not leave the European Union without a divorce deal.

The bill, which has received its final rubber stamp approval from Queen Elizabeth, gives MPs the chance to make legally binding changes to May's requested departure date during a debate scheduled for Tuesday.

Following a meeting of the EU's General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, diplomats said "slightly more than a handful" of member states spoke in favour of delaying Article 50 until 30 June but the majority were in favour of a longer extension.

The leaders also discussed the ongoing situation in Libya.

The country could still crash out of the European Union without a deal if the bloc's leaders refuse to grant a delay.

The main rebellion came from pro-Brexit Conservatives who want Brexit to happen sooner.

The latest round of talks will include Mrs May's de facto deputy, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, and Chancellor Philip Hammond from the Government side, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor John McDonnell from Labour. Labour Party junior Brexit spokesman Matthew Pennycook said his party supported May's extension plan, but warned the extra time must be used to try and find a compromise with Labour and not to pass her own thrice-rejected deal at a fourth attempt.

At Wednesday's summit, European Union heads of state must unanimously ratify any further extension on the withdrawal agreement.

Lord Hague wrote: "It is hard in any case to see how carrying through the programme of Brexit procedures and laws could be sustained by an agreement between part of the Conservative Party and the bulk of the Labour Party - the Government would be highly likely to collapse under such a strain".

The government tabled an order enabling the elections to be held in Britain if the country has not left the European Union by the time they are due to take place on May 23.

European leaders will demand the United Kingdom abide by principles of "sincere co-operation" and not disrupt the functioning of EU institutions in return for a long extension of its Brexit negotiations, according to draft council conclusions seen by the Financial Times.

The Cabinet Office said the elections would automatically be cancelled if the United Kingdom left before then.

  • Wendy Palmer