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Theresa May defends Brexit delay amid calls to resign

Theresa May defends Brexit delay amid calls to resign

Two European officials say EU leaders are offering to allow Britain to extend Brexit until October 31 and are awaiting the U.K.'s response.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door negotiations.

European leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed Wednesday to push the final deadline for the U.K.to depart the bloc until Halloween, with European Council President Donald Tusk warning British politicians to "not waste this time" without ratifying a formal withdrawal agreement.

She took a pointed dig at Conservative rivals, such as anti-EU campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, who say Britain could block and veto legislation to hobble the European Union if it were not able to leave immediately, according to one participant in the summit.

The agreement mean Britain will not crash out of the bloc on Friday and will give Mrs May more than the three months she had asked for to build a parliamentary majority behind the withdrawal treaty she negotiated with the European Union a year ago.

In particular, she wanted to explain to veterans of Europe's compromise-and-coalition politics that her move to open talks last week with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a "significant undertaking" that held out a promise of finally securing a deal, if the European Union extended the Brexit deadline beyond Friday.

"The pressure on her to go will increase dramatically, I suspect", he said.

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He refused to say whether the party would top Ukip's 27% from the 2014 poll, saying only that "I think we're going to do very well".

The summit was more tense than expected, with French President Emmanuel Macron the strongest voice opposing a long extension as the talks stretched from early evening on Wednesday to early yesterday morning. Britain has the option of leaving before that if May succeeds in getting a withdrawal agreement ratified by Parliament.

But May's request has been rebuffed, making it now highly likely that the United Kingdom will be required to take part in European Parliament elections next month. The party accuses the government of failing to offer concrete changes to its Brexit blueprint.

"We'll be going after the millions of people who voted Ukip, and the many millions who voted Conservative and voted Brexit, and the 5 million people who voted Brexit and voted Labour". Economists and business leaders have warned that a no-deal Brexit would lead to huge disruptions in trade and travel, with tariffs and customs checks triggering gridlock at British ports and possible shortages of goods. "I will be getting back to the constituency and doing the day job". The Confederation of British Industry said it meant an "imminent economic crisis" had been averted for now.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a tweet after the extension was granted that the British people should be allowed to "decide if they still want to leave".

Britons voted to leave the European Union, in June 2016, by 52 percent to 48 percent; British lawmakers can't agree on the direction of Brexit, with views split along the usual party lines.

The veteran socialist said while the cross-party talks on finding a compromise were constructive and serious, "the red lines must move and we must see a real compromise".


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