EU weighs Brexit delay options as May scrambles for breakthrough
By John Goodrich
No-deal, short delay, flextension, no Brexit?
The next two days will determine whether Britain leaves the European Union (EU) by the end of the week, in a couple of months, in 2020 – or not at all.
Prime Minister Theresa May is due in France and Germany on Tuesday in last-ditch talks to try to rally support for her proposed exit date of June 30, before meeting the EU27 en masse in Brussels on Wednesday. 

Brexit delay options

No-deal: Parliament has voted against a no-deal and a law has been passed to try to prevent it – yet, unless the EU agrees to a delay or Article 50 is revoked a no-deal will happen on Friday.

Short delay: A short delay to prepare for a no-deal, possibly to May 22, is an option France has considered if Britain cannot set out a roadmap to an orderly exit. 

May's delay: British Prime Minister Theresa May has requested a delay until June 30, an option the EU has previously rejected. 

Flextension: European Council President Donald Tusk is pressing for a flexible delay of up to one year, with guarantees that Britain would not disrupt EU business.  

No Brexit: Revoking Article 50 would be hugely controversial, but faced with the prospect of a no-deal and its consequences it is not an impossible outcome.  

On Monday, a law was passed in the UK parliament aimed at preventing the government from pursuing a no-deal exit. But in practice, the decision is in the hands of EU leaders unless May decides to revoke Article 50.
If a delay isn't granted and Article 50 remains in place, Britain will leave the EU without a deal on Friday.
The EU has tied any further delay to progress in passing the withdrawal deal in the UK parliament, where it has been rejected three times.
The preferred option for European Council President Donald Tusk appears to be a delay of up to one year, which can be broken early if the UK passes the withdrawal deal. It would almost certainly require the UK to take part in European Parliament elections in May.
Guarantees are also likely to be demanded that a future prime minister would not rip up the agreement, amid fears in Brussels that a hardline Brexiteer could replace May in the coming months and that UK could try to disrupt EU decision-making during a long extension.
Twitter Screenshot

Twitter Screenshot

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, tweeted on Monday: "Crucial to know when and on what basis UK will ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. A positive decision hinges also on assurances from UK on sincere cooperation."
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a tougher line on a Brexit extension throughout the process, and will likely demand a clear roadmap if he is to sign up to a lengthy further delay.
Macron, frustrated that the chaos surrounding Brexit has distracted from other issues facing the EU, is reported to be considering only a two-week delay to prepare for a no-deal if May is unable to prove concrete progress.
However, the risk of being blamed for the consequences of a no-deal – a delay must be agreed unanimously by the EU 27 – may be too high a price.
Irish leader Leo Varadkar told RTE at the weekend any member state that vetoed a delay "wouldn't be forgiven," citing the damage a no-deal exit could cause to his country.
EU leaders at a European Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. /VCG Photo

EU leaders at a European Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018. /VCG Photo

The leaders of the EU member states most affected by Brexit – Belgium, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands – are expected to meet on Wednesday to agree a common position.
There appears little appetite for May's preference of a delay to June 30, unless the prime minister can prove she is on track to finding a way through parliament.
Cross-party talks to try to find a route out of the Brexit mess continued in Britain on Monday, without clear signs of progress. 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed there had been no change in the government's "red lines" - notably on customs union membership, which many Conservative MPs have strongly opposed. And many of Corbyn's own MPs are insisting on a confirmatory second referendum. 
Even if a deal is struck at leadership level, there's no guarantee a majority of MPs would back it in a vote. 
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in London, April 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in London, April 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

A combination of talks with Labour and the possibility of taking part in European Parliament elections have infuriated those pushing for a no-deal exit meanwhile, again placing May in the crosshairs of hardline members of her Conservative Party.
Conservative MP Mark Francois on Monday called for a vote on May's leadership, despite party rules dictating that a confidence vote cannot be held until December – a year after a previous attempt to remove her failed.
If a cross-party deal cannot be reached, MPs are expected to vote on a series of Brexit options proposed by the government in the near future.