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Merkel to host May for Brexit talks on Tuesday

Merkel to host May for Brexit talks on Tuesday

The Prime Minister is embarking on a diplomatic flurry which will see her meet German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron ahead of a crunch European Union summit on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, members of parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the extension request, with 420 votes in favour to 110 against.

The Prime Minister's request for a June extension came after the House of Commons rejected her withdrawal agreement for the third time and by 58 votes.

Several days of talks between May's Conservative government and the main opposition Labour Party tried to find a compromise Brexit deal have failed to produce a breakthrough.

"We want to understand what the United Kingdom needs this extension for, and what are the political surroundings around Theresa May to have this extension", she told reporters.

Britain's Parliament has passed a law created to ensure the country does not leave the European Union without a divorce deal.

European Union rules say that any extension to the Brexit deadline needs unanimity among the 27 other member states, and even if smaller member states would be hard-pressed to do it on their own, France has never shied away from being an European Union leader - even at the expense of Britain.

Earlier over a "working lunch", Mrs May and Ms Merkel had agreed on the importance of an "orderly withdrawal" from the EU, Downing Street said.

The French leader has taken the lead in pushing for the bloc to be ready to show Britain the door if Westminster can not not ratify a withdrawal deal.

May has asked for a new delay until June 30.

Earlier on Tuesday, an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said France was not opposed to extending the Brexit deadline but would push for strict conditions to be attached, adding that a year would be "too long".

France and other capitals are anxious that if Britain accepts a long delay, and even elects a new batch of MEPs, its representative could disrupt European Union budget planning and reforms during indefinite Brexit talks.

He refused to suggest areas where the government could cross its red lines, such as on a customs union, in order to meet Labour's demands and stressed again that the government believed numerous benefits of a customs union were already outlined in May's proposals.

Meanwhile the cross-party talks seeking to break the Brexit impasse will resume on Thursday, with Labour saying the Government had not yet made a "clear shift" in its position.

"We are in a very, very frustrating situation here", said Germany's minister for European affairs Michael Roth, as he and fellow EU officials arrived for Luxembourg talks on the eve of the summit.

As it stands, that's when Britain would leave the bloc without a deal - a scenario all sides say they want to avoid.

EU leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss Brexit issues, but with the EU elections closing in and European-wide discussions around the reform of the EU there seems to be little appetite in Europe to debate Brexit again.

Support from the opposition Labour Party was key to May's victory, with only 31 percent of votes in favour coming from members of her own Conservative Party.

If a cross-party deal can not be reached, MPs are expected to vote on a series of Brexit options proposed by the government in the near future.

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