British Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament her priority remained to deliver Brexit as she updated lawmakers on April 11 on an EU Council meeting that agreed an October 31st extension to Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
May said discussions at the EU Council had been difficult and that EU leaders shared the UK’s frustration at the Brexit impasse.
May expressed hope that lawmakers could pass a deal by May 22 to avoid having to hold European elections.
“Reaching an agreement will not be easy because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises,” she said.
“But however challenging it may be politically I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for.”
May said she would seek to return the withdrawal deal to the House if it consented to it, saying it was a necessary element of any deal “whichever course we take.”
She said any agreement on the future relationship “may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the political declaration” a course of action which the EU council had agreed to.
The council, May added, also reiterated that the withdrawal agreement itself could not be reopened.
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mr. speaker the discussions at the council were difficult and unsurprisingly many of our European partners share the deep frustration that I know so many of us feel in this house over the current campus there was a range of views about the length of an extension with a large number of member states preferring a longer extension to the end of this year or even into the next in the end what was agreed by the UK and the eu-27 was a compromise an extension lasting until the end of October the council also agreed that we would update on our progress at the next meeting in June critically as I requested the council agreed that this extension could be terminated when the withdrawal agreement has been ratified so for example if we were to pass a deal by the 22nd of May we would not have to take part in European elections and when the EU has also ratified we will be able to leave at 11 p.m. on the 31st of May in short the date of our departure from the EU and our participation in the European parliamentary elections remains a decision for this house as president tusk said last night during this time the course of action will be entirely in the UK's hands in agreeing this extension there was some discussion in the council about whether stringent require the conditions should be imposed on the UK for its EU membership during this period but I argued against this I put the case that there is only a single chair of EU membership with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations the council conclusions are clear that during the course of the extension the UK will continue to hold full membership rights in turn I assured my fellow leaders that the UK will continue to be bound by all our ongoing obligations as a Member State including the duty of sincere cooperation the United Kingdom plays a responsible and constructive role on the world stage and we always will that is the kind of country we are the choices we face the choices we face our stock and the timetable is clear I believe we must now press on at Pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest I welcome the discussions that have taken place with the opposition in recent days and the further talks which are resuming today this is not the normal way of British politics and it is uncomfortable for many in both the government and opposition parties reaching an agreement will not be easy because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises but however challenging but however challenging it may be politically i profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the house is deadlocked it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for and I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it I hope that we can reach an agreement on a single unified approach that we can put to the house for approval but if we cannot do so soon then we will seek to agree a small number of options for the future relationship that we will put to the house in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue and as I have made clear before the government stands ready to abide by the decision of the house but to make this process work the opposition would need to agree to this – with the houses consent we could also bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill which is a necessary element of any deal which ever course we take this bill will take time to pass through both houses so if we want to get on with leaving we need to start this process soon and it could also provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship crucially mr. speaker any agreement on the future relationship may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the political declaration so I'm pleased that at this council all 27 member states responded to my update on the ongoing cross-party talks by agreeing that the European Council is prepared to reconsider the political declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in guidelines and statements the council also reiterated that the withdrawal agreement itself could not be reopened mr. speaker I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed I never wanted to seek this extension and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this house for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way I know too that this whole debate is putting members on all sides of the house under immense pressure and causing uncertainty across the country and we need to resolve this so let's use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter and let us then resolve to find a way through the San Pass so that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible so that we can avoid having to hold those European parliamentary elections and above all so that we can fulfill the democratic decision of the referendum deliver brexit and move our country forward this is our national duty as elected members of this house and nothing today is more pressing or more vital and I commend this statement to the house