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MarketWatch MarketPulseMar 20, 2019
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May says she will ask EU for a delay of Brexit to June 30
Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday said she planned to ask for a short extension of Britain's plan to exit from the European Union--an effort to avoid a disorderly departure from Europe's trade bloc. "We will now not leave on time with a deal on the 29th of March. This delay is a matter of great personal regret for me," she said during a TV address at 10 Downing Street late Wednesday local time. The British leader had formally requested a three-month extension earlier in the day but voiced her frustration with a Brexit process that has taken about 1,000 days since the late June 2016 referendum that saw U.K. citizens surprisingly vote to abandon the EU. "I am not prepared to delay any Brexit any further than the 30th of June," she said, adding that the public has "had enough" talking about Brexit and wanted to get on with other important matters. The decision to delay Brexit runs the risk of Britain leaving the 27-member EU without a formal trade pact, viewed as a worse-case scenario for domestic and international markets. European Council president, Donald Tusk, has said he would consider a Brexit extension only if May can secure a "positive vote on a withdrawal agreement." That may be a tall order given that last week Parliament rejected May's divorce agreement for the second time. According to reports, May is set to travel to Brussels on Thursday where she will discuss extension options. "I am on your side. It is now time for [Members of Parliament] to decide," May said during her TV address. The British Pound was down against the dollar, with the buck changing hands at $1.3194, down 0.6%, according to FactSet data.

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