May 24, 2019
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European Union

Juncker: No Brexit extension beyond Oct. 31, UK must run in EU elections

Strasbourg (France), Apr 16 (efe-epa).- The European Union is not likely to extend the Brexit negotiation period beyond the current – and already delayed – date of Oct. 31, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday.

The Luxembourgish politician told a European Parliament plenary that should the United Kingdom government fail to ratify the withdrawal deal, an almost 600-page document negotiated with the EU, before then it would crash out in a so-called hard Brexit.

He warned that the UK must also prepare to take part in upcoming European parliamentary elections or face an earlier exit than scheduled.

"If the UK is a member on May 23, it must organize European elections, if it does not do so and the withdrawal deal is not ratified by May 22, the extension ends on May 31," he said, adding that the stipulation was founded on a legal basis.

The European Parliament becomes illegal if a member state fails to run in the elections and therefore has representation in the chamber.

The UK has 73 MEPs.

Juncker said the UK government, which is led by Prime Minister Theresa May, could revoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism that officially notified the EU of its intention to leave, should it wish.

May's deal has been shot down in the House of Commons, the UK's lower parliament, three times. The Conservative PM was engaged in talks with the opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to strike a consensus that would command a parliamentary majority.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said the UK should not be treated as a second-class member state during the extension period.

"I am strongly opposed to the idea that during this further extension the UK be treated as a second category member state," he said.

"I also advised members of the chamber not to let Brexit-fatigue affect their judgment."

He added: "I know that on both sides of the channel everyone, including myself, is exhausted with Brexit. However, this is not an excuse to says 'let's just get this over with because we are tired'.

"We must continue to deal with Brexit with an open mind and in a civilized manner. Because whatever happens we are bound by common fate and want to remain friends and close partners in the future."

The UK had been due to leave the bloc on Mar. 31, 2019.

May's minority government has struggled to get its withdrawal deal through the Commons amid party splits and an unreliable confidence and supply agreement with the right-wing Northern Irish party the DUP. EFE-EPA

lzu-lmi/jt/rb

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