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EU's Tusk says Brexit delay would be "rational"

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"I believe that in the situation we are in, an extension would be a rational decision, but Prime Minister May still believes she will be able to avoid this scenario," Mr Tusk told a news conference in Egypt a day after seeing the British leader.

[SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt] European Council President Donald Tusk said on Monday that delaying Brexit beyond the scheduled exit date of March 29 would be a "rational solution" as there was no majority in the British parliament to approve a divorce deal.

"I believe that in the situation we are in, an extension would be a rational decision, but Prime Minister May still believes she will be able to avoid this scenario," Mr Tusk told a news conference in Egypt a day after seeing the British leader.

The 2 leaders were in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh for an EU/Arab League summit.

Mr Tusk said Mrs May and he discussed "legal and political context of a potential extension" of Britain's two-year limit on Brexit negotiations that expires on March 29.

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"For me, it's absolutely clear that there is no majority in the House of Commons to approve a deal. We will face an alternative, chaotic Brexit, or an extension," Mr Tusk said.

"The less time there is until the 29th of March, the greater the likelihood of an extension. And this is an objective fact, not our plan or our objective, but an objective fact."

Mrs May said delaying Britain's exit from the European Union does not deliver a deal and merely delays the big decision on Brexit.

"An extension to Article 50, a delay in this process, doesn't deliver a decision in parliament, it doesn't deliver a deal," Mrs May said.

"What it does is precisely what the word 'delay' says. It just delays the point at which you come to that decision. And I think that any extension of Article 50, in that sense, isn't addressing the issue. We have it within our grasp."

She added: "Any delay is a delay, it doesn't address the issue, it doesn't resolve the issue."

Speaking about talks with EU leaders, Mrs May said: "What I have sensed in all of my conversations with my fellow leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, and in recent days, is a real determination to find a way through, which allows the UK to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way with a deal."

REUTERS