May’s spokesman said on Tuesday that she was writing to the European Council President Donald Tusk to ask for a three-month extension to Brexit negotiation period beyond the official departure date of March 29.
Media sources said that May would also ask for an extension until June 30 with the option of a delay of up to two years.
The move comes a day after a surprise statement by speaker of the British parliament John Bercow who said May could not return to the House of Commons for a third vote on her controversial Breixt deal if the agreement on offer is the same as the one defeated in the chamber twice this year.
May had obtained the approval of the Commons for asking the EU for a short delay to Brexit, but she had reiterated that the EU would grant such a short delay only if the Commons accept her deal and allow the government to get the legislation required for withdrawal.
With just 10 days remaining until Britain’s official departure date, it is not yet clear what path Brexit will take. Some believe the EU would accept a short delay in its upcoming summit on Thursday and then would grant a long one, potentially for one or two more years, to allow Britain to hold a second referendum on Brexit, as demanded by those opposing the withdrawal.
Others believe certain powerful EU states like France would resist any delay as they know that extending negotiations would do nothing to resolve the political standoff over Brexit. The refusal would mean that Britain should leave the EU at the end of March in a disorderly manner, a scenario supported by fierce advocates of Brexit who believe a clear break from the EU is exactly what was demanded by more than 17 million British voters during the Brexit referendum of June 2016.