May, back in Parliament, tries to defend Brexit extension to skeptical lawmakers


May was addressing lawmakers just hours after returning from a special summit in Brussels at which the other 27 European Union leaders delayed Britain's scheduled departure from the bloc from this Friday to October 31.

The leaders of the 27 EU countries remaining in the European Union have agreed to an extension of Brexit, the chairman of EU summits said in a tweet early on Thursday.

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her decision to delay Brexit and seek a compromise exit plan with the opposition Labour Party as one angry lawmaker from her own party stood up in parliament on Thursday (April 11) and asked her to resign.

Mrs May came to the summit in Brussels seeking a delay to June 30.

A long extension would have been seen "as an attempt by the European Union to hamper Britain's departure by delaying the decision for as long as possible in hoping that they will change their mind", Amelie de Montchalin told parliament.

French President Emmanuel Macron, reprising a role he took last month when May got a first, two-week delay, pushed leaders into hours of debate over dinner as he fought a largely solo campaign to persuade them not to give the British up to another year. This is our national duty as elected members of this House. On this safari tour of wild beasts you will hear some complain "that the prime minister never actually tried" to get rid of the backstop.

The pound traded steady and stocks held firm on news of the extension. Her plan has been rejected three times by Parliament.

"This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution", added Tusk, in a message addressed to the UK.

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So that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

Addressing MPs after agreeing the Halloween Brexit extension, Mrs May said it was "in the national interest" to reach a consensus.

Theresa May's survival as Prime Minister is in fresh doubt as she was hit by a Conservative revolt at all levels of the party against another postponement of Brexit.

May retorted: "I think you know the answer to that".

The delay allowed traders to breathe a sigh of relief but observers noted the reprieve was only brief with the agreement merely kicking the can down the road. "Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises", May told parliament.

Mrs May told the House of Commons - in an oft-repeated mantra - that passing an EU withdrawal agreement quickly would allow Britain to avoid taking part in European parliamentary elections set for late May, an unpalatable prospect to many Conservatives.

Challenging her in the Commons, Brexiteers questioned whether the Prime Minister understood the level of "anger" across the country after having "broken promises 100 times" on not pushing back the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. A week is a long time in politics and we have now given 29 weeks.

Earlier, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the government would "listen" to the option of a second referendum, responding to a question from SNP MP Joanna Cherry.