European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday that he is prepared to agree to a short extension of Britain's Brexit deadline, following a conversation with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, but only if British lawmakers agree to the deal they have twice rejected in Parliament.
Tusk said extending Britain's Brexit deadline from March 29 to June 30 "has merits" and would seem to fit with the Prime Minister's desire to force lawmakers to support her deal, which was first defeated in January -- by the largest margin in U.K. political history -- and then again in late February.
"In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days, I believe that a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons," Tusk said during a statement to the media in Brussels.
Even if the hope for final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking - until the very last moment - a positive solution. #euco— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 20, 2019
The decision could mean Speaker of the House, John Bercow, will allow a third vote on May's deal after ruling earlier this week that Parliamentary rules prohibited May from bringing her deal to a vote for a third time.
However, should Bercow allow the vote, and lawmakers reject it again, Tusk indicated that EU leaders would not allow the March 29 deadline to be extended, raising the prospect of Britain crashing out of the European Union as early as next week.
France's Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French lawmakers Wednesday that his country would vote against an extension if May wasn't able to either win approval next week or show that she would be able to do so in the coming weeks.
"A situation in which Mrs May was not able to present to the European Council sufficient guarantees of the credibility of her strategy would lead to the extension request being dismissed and opting for a no-deal exit," he said during a debate in the French National Assembly.