Wales politics

Brexit: Theresa May urged to show flexibility by Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford
Image caption Mark Drakeford wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to show flexibility in her discussions with the EU

Taking part in European elections in May is preferable to leaving the EU without a deal, Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Theresa May was in talks in Paris and Berlin on Tuesday working to secure an extension to Brexit.

The prime minister wants an extension until 30 June. Mr Drakeford said she should show "flexibility" if EU proposals do not meet her terms.

The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday with no Brexit deal agreed.

EU leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss Mrs May's proposal.

Donald Tusk, European Council president, has proposed to offer the UK a 12-month "flexible" extension to its Brexit date.

The Welsh Government has repeatedly warned of the "catastrophic" economic damage a no-deal Brexit would cause and in a letter to Mrs May, the first minister welcomed talks with Labour to find a consensus.

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But he said it seemed "unlikely" the cross-party work would have "advanced sufficiently" to provide the clarity the EU has been demanded as a pre-condition for a short extension to Brexit.

Mr Drakeford asked Mrs May to "show flexibility" in her response to any proposal from the remaining 27 EU states for a longer extension than the one she requested.

"In our view, having apparently 'hard' deadlines has not helped us to arrive at a sensible outcome to the current negotiations," he said.

Any extension beyond 22 May will likely mean the UK will need to take part in elections to the European Parliament.

"Although this may not be desirable, it is preferable to risking a no-deal crash out of the EU, which would do very significant damage to our economic and social fabric," the first minister added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Theresa May was in Berlin and Paris on Tuesday trying to secure an extension to Brexit

Earlier, Plaid Cymru called for an extension long enough to hold a further referendum on EU membership - Wales voted to leave in 2016.

Plaid's Jonathan Edwards said: "The answer is staring the prime minister in the face - deliver an extension with enough time for a fresh referendum and give the people a final say, now we know what Brexit really means."

On Tuesday, MPs backed a government motion asking the Commons to approve Mrs May's request to the EU to delay Brexit, required after a bill from Labour's Yvette Cooper became law.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns backed the motion to extend to June 30, as did the Welsh Tories' Glyn Davies, Simon Hart and Guto Bebb, alongside Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs.

The Conservatives' Chris Davies and David Jones voted against it.

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