As rumours spread like wildfire after UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who had been asked to address a meeting of her party’s representatives in parliament but rejected the invitation as the Brexit crisis deepensis preparing her resignation speech, . Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has fanned the flames of suspicion the Prime Minister will make a statement outside Number 10 this evening by saying he understands Theresa May will be addressing the nation tonight information leaked out that May intends to address the nation later this evening.
Downing Street has not confirmed the rumours the Prime Minister will speak to Britons live outside Number 10 this evening, although in the absence of a denial it is understood she will make some kind of important statement this evening.. The BBC’s usually reliable political reporter Laura Kuenssberg suggested should an announcement be made it could come at 8pm.
Earlier the Prime Minister is meeting leaders of all opposition parties inside her parliamentary office to discuss how she will use an Article 50 extension if it is agreed by the EU. Leaders of the Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Independent Group are understood to have been invited.
This morning, Mrs May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk begging for a three-month Brexit delay, until June 30.
In her letter, Mrs May said she will try to get her Brexit deal passed through Parliament in a third vote “as soon as possible”.
The Prime Minister wrote: “I intend to put forward a motion as soon as possible under section 13 of the Withdrawal Act 2018 and make the argument for the orderly withdrawal and strong future partnership the UK economy, its citizens’ security and the continent’s future, demands.”
The EU immediately rejected May’s request for an Article 50 extension to 30th June, releasing a note insisting that the 23rd May is the crucial date – the day European Parliament elections are held. They say the PM can either have a “short technical extension” until 23rd May, any longer and it will have to be at least until the end of 2019 and the UK will have to participate in European Parliament elections.
French print and broadcst news organisations are reporting that President Macron is minded to veto any extension tomorrow if May cannot offer a “credible strategy” for getting a deal acceptable to the EU approved by parliament. The BBC’s Adam Fleming commented that it is too late for EU leaders to agree an extension one tomorrow as they haven’t had time to consult with national parliaments…
Whether Macron is serious remains to be seen, what is known however is that Nigel Farage, suspecting that May is planning a last minute deal that would betray the referendum result, has been lobbying Italian leader Matteo Salvini to veto an extension thus forcing a no deal exit on 29 March. Donald Tusk has made no secret of his desire for the UK to hold a second referendum and cancel Brexit. There is no doubt that the EU27 will use any extension request to try to push the UK closer to one…
At that point it becomes the ultimate test of May’s resolve. May gambled her future on the short extension today, the EU are trying to force her into a long one with a second referendum as the price? Mr Tusk confirmed he expects a “short” extension to Article 50 would be possible but warned any delay would come with conditions.
Meanwhile, Commons speaker John Bercow has approved an emergency debate on May’s extension request, while European Council leader Donald Tusk is expected to make a statement in the near future about May’s request that Article 50 be extended until the end of June.