April 10, 2019 / 2:53 PM / 6 months ago

May says she aims to secure delay for orderly Brexit

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday she was asking EU leaders to delay the Brexit deadline to June 30 so she could get approval from parliament for her deal and ensure Britain leaves the European Union in an orderly way.

May, weaker than ever after parliament rejected her deal three times, is asking for a short Brexit extension but said what was more important than the length of any delay was the ability to leave as soon as she won lawmakers’ approval.

“I want us to be able to leave the European Union in a smooth and orderly way as soon as possible and that’s what I am going to be working for,” May told reporters on arrival for the emergency meeting in Brussels.

“I’ve asked for an extension to June 30, but what is important is that the extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, so we could leave on May 22 and start to build our brighter future.”

She said talks with Britain’s main opposition Labour Party to find a compromise that could command a parliamentary majority were continuing - her main argument to convince EU leaders they can trust her to get the divorce deal ratified by parliament.

But those talks have yet to reach any kind of agreement, with Labour saying the government is reluctant to move on its red lines - specifically on membership of the bloc’s customs union - to offer any sign of a breakthrough.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Philip Blenkinsop

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