March 21, 2019 / 9:44 PM / a month ago

EU looks at two-stage approach to Brexit delay - diplomats

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain's Permanent Representative to the EU Tim Barrow attend a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders were considering an offer of a two-stage Brexit delay on Thursday, depending on whether Prime Minister Theresa May gets her divorce deal approved by the British parliament next week, diplomatic sources said.

If she does, the bloc would offer a Brexit delay from the current leave date of March 29 to May 22, according to several diplomats briefed on talks between the other 27 national EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

If she does not get approval for her deal, Britain would be given until April 12 to inform the EU whether it would hold European Parliament elections on May 23-26.

If Britain agreed to hold the elections, the EU could then consider a longer extension and if it did not, a no-deal Brexit would happen on May 22, the diplomats said.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Alastair Macdonald, Anthony Deutsch, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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