Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday requested a three-month delay to Brexit after her failure to get a deal ratified by parliament left the United Kingdom's divorce from the European Union in turmoil.
Nearly three years the UK voted to leave the EU and nine days before the formal exit deadline, British politicians are still arguing over how, when or even if the world's fifth largest economy should leave the bloc it first joined 1973.
When May set the March 29 exit date two years ago by serving the formal Article 50 divorce papers, she declared there would be "no turning back" but parliament's refusal to ratify the withdrawal deal she agreed with the EU has thrust her government into crisis.
Now, May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk to ask for a delay until June 30.
"As prime minister I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June," May told a rowdy session of parliament.
She said she planned to ask parliament to vote a third time on her departure deal, which lawmakers have already voted down twice. She didn't say when the vote would happen.
The opposition Labour Party said that by choosing a short delay May was forcing British lawmakers to decide between accepting a deal they have already rejected twice or crashing out of the European Union without a deal.
Pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party are opposed to a longer delay because they fear this could mean that Brexit might never happen.
For its part, the EU said any extension should either be until May 23 or "significantly longer" and require Britain to take part in European elections in May. The prime minister said it was not in Britain's interests to take part in European elections.
An EU Commission document seen by Reuters said the EU should offer Britain just one extension as multiple delays would leave the bloc in limbo.
EU leaders are expected to discuss May's request for a Brexit delay at a two-day summit in Brussels starting from today. Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU had done much to accommodate Britain and can go no further.