Brexit: 12 April deadline unlikely
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Prime Minister Theresa May pleaded with France and Germany on Tuesday for a second and lengthier delay to Brexit. A day ahead of an emergency EU summit that will help decide Britain's fate, May met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and later in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Initially Macron had taken a hard line, saying he wouldn’t agree with an extension. But in the afternoon, he seemed to have softened his stance after an aide to Macron said Paris could be prepared to accept an extension of less than a year.
In Germany, a source in Merkel's party said she could consider a delay until the start of 2020.
And EU Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday urged the bloc's leaders to allow Britain to delay Brexit for up to a year.
Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for Brexit to be postponed to June 30 but Tusk said the evidence of recent months gave "little reason to believe" that divided British lawmakers would ratify the divorce deal by then.
After meeting Europe's two most powerful figures, May is hoping EU leaders will agree at the emergency summit to postpone Brexit from April 12 to June 30, to give her more time to get her divorce deal through parliament.
Last week, British MPs have rejected the text, and May's government is now in talks with the opposition Labor party to try to find a way through the deadlock.
But the discussions are moving slowly, and EU negotiator Michel Barnier said May must explain in Brussels what another postponement would achieve.
"The length of the extension must be linked to the purpose -- what it's for -- and that depends on what Mrs. May will say to European leaders tomorrow," he told reporters after a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.
The IMF tried to discourage a hard Brexit – Britain leaving the EU without any deal on April 12 – saying that Britain risks a “serious shock” if it that road is taken.
Meanwhile, the British government acknowledged Tuesday that it will not have secured a Brexit compromise with the opposition Labor party before a crucial EU summit, announcing more talks will take place later this week.
"We have had further productive and wide-ranging talks this afternoon, and the parties have agreed to meet again on Thursday once European Council has concluded," a spokesman said.
Senior ministers met with top figures in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party on Tuesday to try to find a way through the political deadlock that has left Britain on the brink of crashing out of the European Union on Friday.
The cross-party talks started last Wednesday.