UK falls straight into its own trap

PM Theresa May asks EU to delay Britain's leaving until 30 June

British PM Theresa May has written on Friday to European Council President Donald Tusk, asking the EU for a further Brexit delay to 30 June, news wires reported. The prime minister has said she was still hopeful of leaving the bloc earlier and asked for the right for the UK to exit if a withdrawal deal is approved by parliament in that time. But she said the UK would prepare to field candidates in EU elections, in case they do not reach agreement.

The Brexit delay request comes ahead of an EU leaders summit on 10 April. Earlier on Friday, a senior EU source said that Donald Tusk is proposing to offer the UK a 12-month “flexible” extension to its Brexit date.

Three years after Britons voted to quit the EU in a referendum, and with only a week left before a new, delayed exit date of 12 April, the UK government and parliament remained bitterly divided over how, when or even whether to leave the EU. Last week, PM Theresa May faced fury from anti-EU Conservatives after she agreed to talks with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who favours a softer form of Brexit than that advocated by the government. Labour want a new permanent customs union with the EU, while Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which has propped up May's government, indicated that it could support the idea. Critics say remaining part of a European customs union would stop the UK negotiating its own trade agreements with the rest of the world.

Lawmakers, desperate to avoid a chaotic exit, have seized control of the parliamentary agenda, and the House of Commons on Wednesday voted a bill that compels May to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Speaking in the EP on Wednesday, European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs he would seek until the last moment to prevent no-deal Brexit. He reiterated that Britain would not get a transition period after Brexit without ratifying the exit deal. He also made clear that the EU would set firm conditions for restarting talks with Britain on new trade ties, should the worst-case scenario materialise.

The British police revealed that it has tested plans in recent months to have 10,000 officers respond within 24 hours to any disorder or increase in hate crime if Britain leaves the EU with no deal. At the same time, there have been warnings from a number of Brexit supporters that failing to get Britain out of the EU could lead to civil unrest.

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