The Latest: Czech PM ready to back UK’s Brexit delay request

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s departure from the European Union (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis says his country is ready to approve Britain’s request for a delay to its scheduled departure from the European Union.

According to Czech public radio, Babis told lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament a ‘no-deal’ Brexit “would be the worst possible outcome” and that the “best solution would be a second referendum in Britain whose result would keep Britain in the EU.”

He said that voters in the Brexit referendum of June 2016 when Britain narrowly voted to leave the EU, were influenced by “disinformation.”

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3:05 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is welcoming the fact that Britain has finally made a “clear request” about how to proceed on Brexit, but isn’t saying how Germany will respond.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the EU for Britain’s departure to be delayed from March 29 to June 30, but said she wasn’t prepared to delay Brexit any further.

A delay will need approval from all 27 other EU leaders, and they are meeting at a summit in Brussels starting Thursday.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin: “We welcome the fact that there is now a clear request from Britain.”

Seibert said that the request “will certainly be discussed intensively” at the summit, but wouldn’t offer an opinion ahead of the talks. He said Germany remains convinced that a no-deal Brexit “would be in no one’s interest.”

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2:55 p.m.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, says Britain should leave the EU by the start of elections to the European Parliament on May 23 if the country is not taking part.

That’s earlier than the request British Prime Minister Theresa May has made. In a letter to the EU, May wants EU leaders to back an extension to the Brexit date from March 29 to June 30.

An EU Commission official said Juncker told May in a telephone call that “the withdrawal has to be complete before May 23,” the first day of the European elections.

The official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said that if the deadline comes later Juncker warned May that “we face institutional difficulties and legal uncertainty.”

He insisted EU elections would have to be held in Britain if a June 30 date was asked for.

The 27 EU nations meeting in a summit Thursday need to back an extension to the deadline unanimously.

___ By Raf Casert in Brussels.

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2:30 p.m.

French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux says a delay to Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union can be considered but only on condition that British Prime Minister Theresa May “provides guarantees.”

Speaking following a weekly Cabinet meeting, Griveaux said May must express to EU leaders in Brussels at a summit on Thursday “what purpose” lies behind her delay request.

“We cannot speculate on any scenario”, he said.

Earlier, May formally, via a letter, asked the EU to delay the scheduled Brexit date from March 29, until June 30 following Parliament’s failure to vote for the withdrawal agreement that she negotiated with the bloc.

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1:15 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the European Union to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until June 30.

The U.K. is currently due to leave the bloc in nine days, but Parliament has twice rejected May’s divorce deal with the EU.

May told European Council President Donald Tusk in a letter seeking the extension that she intends to try a third time to get the deal approved.

A delay to Brexit needs approval from all 27 remaining EU member states, who are meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

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9:55 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to ask the European Union for a short delay to the country’s divorce from the European Union.

Britain’s Press Association is citing sources in the prime minister’s office as saying May will write to EU leaders on Wednesday to formally request “a bit more time.” Parliament last week voted for a three-month delay to the end of June, but some EU leaders have suggested another two years might be necessary.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds told the BBC on Wednesday that a shorter delay is the right option.

Hinds says the process has already gone on for more than two years, “and I think people are a bit tired of waiting for Parliament to get our act together and get the deal passed.”

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9 a.m.

The head of the European Union’s executive branch says a decision on a delay to Brexit is unlikely at this week’s EU summit and the bloc’s leaders may have to meet again next week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit, currently scheduled for March 29, ahead of an EU summit starting Thursday. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he hadn’t received a letter as of Wednesday morning.

Juncker told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio: “My impression is … that this week at the European Council there will be no decision, but that we will probably have to meet again next week.”

He added that “Mrs. May doesn’t have agreement to anything, either in her Cabinet or in Parliament.”

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Categories: International News