April 5 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the European Union Friday for more time to leave the alliance as it hopes to push a political and trade agreement through Parliament.
In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, May asked the deadline to be moved from April 12 to June 30. While both sides have acknowledged a legally-binding deal is needed, British lawmakers have yet to sign off on one.
If the EU refuses the extension, the April 12 deadline will remain. If Britain remains, it will be obligated to participate in European Parliament elections next month. The EU has already rejected calls for an extended deadline, including last month when it offered a date of May 22 if British Parliament passed a proposal put forth by May and the 28-nation alliance.
"The government will want to agree on a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible," May said in the letter.
Tusk raised the possibility Thursday of giving Britain a one-year extension, if it participates in the EU elections.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chair European Research Group, warned that his group would be disruptive if May attempts to ask for a longer delay.
"If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible," Rees-Mogg tweeted Friday. "We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block [French president Emmanuel] Macron's integrationist schemes."
If the extension is granted, the work of reaching an agreeable withdrawal deal will fall back into the hands of May's government. Parliament has rejected May's negotiated plan with the EU three times and opposed four alternatives.