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As Brexit Clock Ticks, May Appeals to EU for Delay

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement about Brexit in Downing Street in London, March 20, 2019.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying Thursday to persuade European Union leaders in Brussels to approve a three-month extension, giving Britain more time to figure out how exactly it will leave the EU.

The other 27 EU members must approve any Brexit delay beyond the original March 29 deadline. A vote is not likely to take place until next week.

Before May traveled to make her case in person at Thursday’s EU meeting, she made her request in a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.

But Tusk says such a short-term extension can only happen if Britain’s parliament votes in the next week to approve the divorce terms that British and EU negotiators reached after two years of talks.

British lawmakers have shown little enthusiasm for that deal, rejecting it by large margins in two votes. The speaker of the House of Commons has also said a third vote should not take place on procedural grounds.

May said in an address Wednesday night that lawmakers now have the choice to either support her deal or have Britain go forward with Brexit without any terms in place for its separation from the European Union.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also traveled to Brussels for his own talks with EU officials in an attempt to find support for allowing parliament, and not May, to figure out an alternative path forward.