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  • European Union Keeps Backing PM May Despite New Brexit Delay
Published 23 May 2019

The British prime minister may announce her resignation date Friday, though pressure for her immediate resignation continues.

The European Commission (EC) said Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May is still the leader at a time when the United Kingdom is pulling out of the European Union (EU) and the British government and parliament are pressuring her to leave office.

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"We will always have Mrs. May as our interlocutor and we will always be ready to speak with the U.K. Prime Minister," the European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said, recalling what the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a TV interview Wednesday.

"What I do not like about the British debate is that it seems more important to replace Prime Minister than to reach an agreement between them," Juncker said and added May, "is a woman who knows how to do things, but she is unable to have success in doing them. ... I like her a lot, she's a tough person."

May moved the publication of the Brexit agreement bill from May 24 to June 3, arguing that she wishes parliamentarians to vote on her proposal. This deferment, however, has been interpreted as just another sign of her fragile political position.

If May is to go, her departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and an election that could usher in a socialist government, says Reuters.

In that case, Britains face an array of options including an orderly exit with a deal, a no-deal exit, an election, or a second referendum that could ultimately reverse the 2016 decision to leave the EU.

The EC president now seems resigned to, but frustrated with the possibility of an Oct. 31 Brexit, although the U.K. can leave the EU sooner if legislators approve the Brexit bill. "I'm getting fed up because we're waiting for the next extension," Juncker commented.

Schinas insisted that the "divorce" cannot be reopened, although the political statement on the future relationship between London and Brussels "can be reviewed as long as it does not reverse the [withdrawal treaty's] spirit."

Nearly three years after Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU, it remains unclear how, when or even whether it will leave the European club it joined in 1973. 

The prime minister will meet Friday with Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee, to determine her political future. This Tory meeting will take place one day after the European elections, in which U.K. Conservatives expect a tough setback.

According to local media, May might finally provide her resignation date by Friday, although there are more and more conservative parliamentarians who are asking for her immediate resignation.

Formally speaking, however, she cannot be challenged until the end of this year, for she survived a no-confidence vote of Conservative MPs in December 2018, as explained by BBC.

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