Speaking from Downing Street, Mrs May suggested she would make any further Brexit delay “as short as possible”. But her request, which contains little detail, is likely to infuriate EU leaders ahead of an emergency summit in Brussels next week. Responding, Mr Tusk promised to listen to the Prime Minister’s latest plan and urged European colleagues to do the same.
The European Council president said: “Even if, after today, we don’t know what the end result will be, let us be patient.”
Mrs May vowed not to hold European Parliament elections in the UK in her address to the nation.
Mrs May said: “I have always been clear that we could make a success of no deal in the long term but leaving with a deal is the best solution.
“So we will need a further extension of Article 50 – one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal.
“And we need to be clear what such an extension is for – to ensure we leave in a timely and orderly way.
“This debate, this division, cannot drag on much longer.”
This will limit any extension until May 22, which is the day before Britain would have to participate in the euro ballot.
An EU diplomat told Express.co.uk: “There must be European Parliament elections in the UK. May will need to produce a good reason to convince leaders of a short extension. It’s not very likely.”
A second Brussels source added: “I’m afraid this time no extension until May 22 will be granted unless the UK participate in the European elections, or May can really quickly approve the withdrawal agreement.
“The elections are the real cliff edge now and the possibility o no deal – if possible – even stronger!”
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen: “Since we could agree to postpone Brexit to right before European Parliament election given the approval of May’s agreement, we schould also be patient if there is suddenly is a cross-party way forward in the UK. But is it to good to believe?”
Earlier today, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “A long extension involving the participation of the UK in the European elections and in the EU’s institutions is far from evident and certain to be granted.
“And let me repeat it strongly here today – our priority shall be the good functioning of the EU and the single market.
“The EU cannot sustainably be the hostage to the solution to a political crisis in the UK.”