EU President Donald Tusk calls on the 27 EU leaders to consider a longer Brexit delay than what British Prime Minister Theresa May himself is asking for. The division within the British parliament about the Brexit deal gives little reason to believe that its ratification process can be completed before the end of June, he writes in his letter of invitation to the EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday. May wants to postpone the deadline until 30 June.

Tusk writes that a short delay threatens to lead to new short delay periods and emergency meetings. As a result, there would always be “cliffhanger” moments in which the British would leave the EU in a chaotic manner without any agreements. That situation would overshadow the normal work of the EU in the coming months and lead to permanent uncertainty among citizens and businesses, Tusk said.

The Pole therefore argues for a “flexible delay” as long as it is needed, but for a maximum of one year. Once the Brexit deal has been approved by all parties, the United Kingdom can then leave the EU. A longer delay also gives the British the opportunity to “reconsider their Brexit strategy,” Tusk said.

Tusk does set conditions for such a flexible delay. The withdrawal agreement on divorce conditions cannot be broken open and London must continue to “cooperate sincerely” within the EU during this period.

We must remember that the United Kingdom as a member state has full rights and obligations. In any case, the British government can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 at any time if desired.

Article 50 of the EU Treaty sets out the rules for withdrawal from the EU.

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