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May to urge Merkel and Macron to extend Article 50 once more

THERESA MAY will be dashing to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris tomorrow to urge them to give her an extension to Article 50.

The Prime Minister has cancelled her usual Cabinet meeting to take part in last-minute negotiations with only three days to go until Britain’s scheduled European Union withdrawal.

Britain is still expected to leave the EU on a no-deal basis at 11pm on Friday if no deal or extension is approved by then.

An EU summit tomorrow will see whether EU leaders will grant her an extension until the end of June, which the leaders of the 27 remaining nations would have to unanimously agree on.

Mr Macron has previously opposed a Brexit extension, stating that Ms May must present the EU with a “credible alternative plan backed by a majority.”

The PM is also continuing negotiations with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the hope of a coming up with a deal that can command majority support in the Commons, after her own plan was rejected three times.

Her trips to France and Germany on the eve of the EU emergency summit makes it unlikely that any compromise Brexit deal agreed with Mr Corbyn could be put before MPs for a vote before she meets EU officials.

Also, if the European Council proposes a different extension date, Ms May would need to rush back to the Commons to obtain MPs’ approval before Friday.

This afternoon, Sinn Fein leaders were due to hold Brexit talks with the Scottish National Party and Mr Corbyn in Westminster.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said yesterday that she would tell Mr Corbyn that Irish interests must be protected whatever the outcome of his Brexit negotiations with Ms May.

She said: “We will set out again the very clear need to protect Irish interests and make it very, very clear that whatever way Brexit lands, deal or no deal, that Irish interests have to be protected.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in Dublin today that the contentious Irish border backstop was “currently the only solution we have found to maintain the status quo on the island of Ireland.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Ireland is continuing preparations for a no-deal Brexit.


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