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Brexit news - LIVE: EU leaders unanimously agree to give UK unconditional ‘flextension’ if it approves withdrawal agreement next week

Follow The Independent's live coverage of the day's political events 

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
,Harry Cockburn
Thursday 21 March 2019 16:00 GMT
European Council President Donald Tusk tells media that EU leaders agree to delay the Brexit process

Theresa May’s request to extend triggering Article 50 until the end of June was rejected by the EU, which instead offered a shorter time frame.

Ms May has now accepted the offer of a delay until May 22 if her withdrawal deal is approved by Parliament.

If MPs reject it for a third time, the EU says Britain must propose a new plan by April 12.

The result of this would either be a much longer delay or crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Ms May said she will not support a long delay because it would mean Britain participating in elections for the European Parliament.

Here’s how events unfolded:

Please allow a moment for the liveblog to load


Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the day's political events. 

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 07:51

Tory former minister Sam Gyimah, who resigned over the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, said Theresa May had delivered a "low blow" by "resorting to the blame game".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

I think democracy loses when a Prime Minister who set herself against the House of Commons and then blames MPs for doing their job.

And this is particularly worrying given she knows MPs are receiving hate mail in their inboxes. Some MPs are receiving death threats."

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 07:54

Conservative former minister Sir Oliver Letwin said he believed MPs would support a Norway-style Brexit deal.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that MPs needed to establish if there is a majority in favour of an alternative plan if the Prime Minister's deal is defeated again next week.

I believe, for example, that we will probably on that day be able to get a cross-party majority in favour of what is sometimes called Norway plus and sometimes called Common Market 2.0, which is an arrangement where we remain in the single market and we have a customs arrangement with the EU and that has not yet been tested."

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 07:59

Former European Commission president and ex-Italian prime minister Romano Prodi said he believed EU leaders could back a longer extension.

He told Today: "I still think that there will be more time... there will be some compromise in order to get more time because really the common will against a hard Brexit is real."

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:10

In case you missed the big development overnight, Theresa May delivered a statement from inside Downing Street, where she blamed MPs for the current political chaos. 

Here is the full report for The Independent's Political Editor Joe Watts: 

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:11

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is doing the media rounds this morning and speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said he was not sure if there will be a third meaningful vote next week.

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:20

An important comment here from Mr Hunt - who says we do not know what conditions the EU will put on accepting the request for a Brexit extension.

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:29
Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:41

Jeremy Hunt has claimed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "no prime minister in living memory has been tested" in the way that Theresa May has.

Let's not forget the extraordinary pressure that she is personally under, and I think she does feel a sense of frustration.

She is absolutely determined to deliver what people voted for and I think ... the Brexit process has sapped our national confidence and we need to remember now what we're capable of as a country.

And we need to remember that the economy has actually not suffered in the way many people thought it would and we have a chance now to resolve this and move on, to close this chapter, move on to the next chapter.

And we will be able to say, as one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, that we were faced with a very difficult decision - a decision that most of the political establishment didn't want to go ahead - and we've delivered it because we are a country where we do what the people say."

Shehab.Khan21 March 2019 08:51
Ashley Cowburn21 March 2019 09:16

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