May Said to Tell Merkel She Doesn’t Want a Delay: Brexit Update

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minster Theresa May (L) hold bilateral talks over breakfast during the first Arab-European Summit on February 25, 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders from European and Arab nations are meeting for the two-day summit to discuss topics including security, trade and migration. Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Brexit is dominating the EU-Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to renegotiate her unpopular divorce agreement, and is said to have told German Chancellor Angela Merkel she doesn’t want to extend the process beyond March 29.

Key Developments:

May set March 12 deadline to put her Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament The EU is considering telling May that if she can’t get her deal passed, the alternative is extending membership to 2021 MPs will vote on a proposal to delay Brexit on Wednesday; May will address Parliament on Tuesday

Varadkar Sees Extension as Only Alternative to Deal (11 a.m.)

Before his meeting with Theresa May, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar appeared to suggest a no-deal is off the table for now.

In remarks tweeted by the Irish Independent from the summit, he said: “What’s evident to me is absolutely no-one wants the U.K. to crash out with no deal, that’s a lose-lose-lose scenario for everyone. That gives me confidence, or a sense at least, that the UK will not crash out without a deal on March 29. We’ll either have a deal or have an extension.”

That sums up why May wants to keep the threat of no-deal on the table. If there’s no danger, why should the EU move on the backstop?

Merkel Questions May on Brexit Delay (9:40 a.m.)

May met German Chancellor Angela Merkel for breakfast in Sharm el-Sheikh and the pair discussed Brexit, among other issues.

During a 45-minute meeting over pastries, cheese and fruit, Merkel asked May about a British media report that the U.K. is considering a two-month technical extension to Article 50 to give more time to get the legislation through Parliament, according to a person familiar with the matter.

May is said to have replied that she doesn’t want a delay, and is keen to get the deal done in time to leave the EU as planned on March 29. A British official said May believes delaying Brexit will not solve the issue but only postpone the moment when a decision must be made.

The official said May also met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and will hold talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar later.

Hinds Says No-Deal Won’t Be Government Policy (8:30 a.m.)

Cabinet minister Damian Hinds insisted the government would not make it official policy to pursue a no-deal Brexit. “We are not going to make no-deal government policy,” Hinds, the education secretary, told BBC Radio on Monday.

May wants to keep the no-deal threat on the table as she thinks it will help get her unpopular divorce agreement through Parliament. But several ministers indicated on Friday they were ready to vote against her to prevent a cliff-edge departure — joining with Labour members of Parliament to do so. DM


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