Merkel Opens Door to May's Delay to Fight No-Deal Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel is ready to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s request to delay the U.K.’s departure from the European Union as the German chancellor vows to fight to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

“We will do everything we can in the few remaining days to make sure we achieve an orderly Brexit,” Merkel said in a speech to Germany’s lower house of parliament. EU leaders would consider granting an extension until June 30 “if the British parliament delivers a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement next week.”

European leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, days before the U.K.’s scheduled exit from the EU. A disorderly Brexit risks major disruption on both sides of the English Channel if decades of close economic ties end abruptly.

While Merkel’s willing to consider a “short delay” to Britain’s departure, the fact that European Parliament elections take place in late May needs to be taken into account. If there’s no positive vote from British lawmakers, then European leaders may need to meet again before the March 29 exit date, Merkel said.

“I regret to say that eight days before the U.K.’s departure from the EU, we still don’t have an answer to the Brexit issue,” Merkel said.

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