In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally requested a delay to the country’s departure from the European Union (EU). The deadline was originally set at, and still technically remains, March 29. May, however, asked the date to be pushed back to June 30, according to BBC News.
The European Commission countered, saying withdrawal must occur before May 23 at the latest. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, “formally warned” May, according to CNN, adding “withdrawal has to be before May 23, otherwise we face institutional difficulties and legal uncertainty. Elections have to be held if the extension is after May 23.”
The reason for the uncertainty comes by the fact that the new session of the European Parliament begins on July 1, meaning the UK would need to hold elections for the open positions. The UK, however, seems to believe it can forgo elections and leave the EU just prior to the new session. The Commission says the UK must take part in elections for the European Parliament if they remain any later than May 23—or delays must be significantly longer.
May has previously backed down on her suggestion to delay withdrawal for up to two years, according to CNN. Now, her recent comments suggest she may resign if the delay is forced passed June 30. In her letter, May says, "As Prime Minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than June 30."
European officials have said any delay wouldn’t automatically be agreed to this week; any delay to Brexit must be agreed to by all 27 member states.
Previously, Travel Agent has reported that the UK, EU and United States have all signed agreements to continue air travel regardless of the outcome, and new research released this week has also pointed to the travel sector’s resilience in the face of Brexit uncertainty.