BRUSSELS – A humbled and humbled British Prime Minister Theresa May came to Brussels on Thursday not to dictate the terms of her country's exit from the European Union, but to demand a three-month delay.
Before the meeting of E.U. Leader – a nail biter expected to start in the afternoon and reach late into the night – the attitude seemed to harden against the British leader. Even some E.U. Anglophiles, who once hoped that Britain would change its mind and stay in the Union, snapped the better the sooner the door opened on the nation's membership.
It was clear that Britain had not regained control of Europe, as the hard-line advocates of Brexit had expected. May did not come as a petitioner, but as less than equivalent.
May asked Wednesday in a letter for a delay in leaving the UK by the end of June and wanted to use the extra time to pass a divorce treaty. The Europeans, whose confidence is finally coming to an end, want them to close the deal before they get a delay, and possibly stay a final decision up to hours before Britain would otherwise leave on 29 March.
When she arrived for her last meeting with Britain as a member of the European Union, May said she was there to hold the Brexit.
"This delay is a matter of personal regret for me," she told reporters standing in the glass entrance to the summit building, where the British Union Jack could soon be removed from the 28 E.U. Flags of the members. "But a short extension would give Parliament the time to make a final decision that takes into account the outcome of the referendum."
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that E.U. The Heads of State and Government would probably approve May's application for a three-month extension, provided the UK Parliament agrees to the divorce settlement.
"We can in principle comply with this request if we would receive a positive vote on the withdrawal documents in the British Parliament next week," Merkel said before leaving for Brussels with the German legislators.
It was not said what would happen if the peace agreement did not clarify Parliament – a real possibility because it has already been beaten twice by historical margins. That would almost force the end of next week another emergency summit.
In London, May's Allies said they were under "extraordinary pressure." Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt told the BBC: "No prime minister dealing with living memory has been tested the way she did."
Meanwhile, E.U. The policy makers have little understanding for May. They have enough of Britain and want it to work. They no longer have hope for a second referendum that could reverse Brexit's decision, but prefer to part ways and move on.
"We do not want Brexit in the coming months, in the coming years," said Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, who posted wistful videos on Twitter requesting Britons to give up Brexit. "We want to be busy with the renewal of the European Union," he told reporters before the meeting.
The Europeans are well aware that the Brexit chaos is being driven by members of the conservative party of May. She could not win her own Cabinet, which presents itself daily. She loses control or loses control of the process. That makes her nervous.
The Europeans hope that the British Prime Minister wants to request a much longer extension and declare that he will hold elections for the European Parliament in May. She has excluded her for fear of hardened Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party.
Before the summit, European diplomats were unusually open about their fears in the coming days. Many worried that the economic tornado triggered by a sudden withdrawal of the British could hurt citizens across Europe. They expected that they too would be accused.
"My lack of response to my mother or friends:" Why did you contribute to this mess? Why did you do that? Why did not you do something about it? "Said an elderly E.U. Diplomat talking about the condition of anonymity to discuss the planning before the meetings. "If this is the scenario, it's the bitterest experience."
Diplomats were concerned about the hours of meetings that can be confrontational. At meetings with other E.U. Leader, May sticks to their talks. They consider them as focused on obtaining their party and their position. They used to have compassion, but they mined those reserves.
May is quickly going home. You and the legislator are now blaming each other for the chaos.
On Wednesday evening, May appeared on the desk at Downing Street 10 to speak to the public. She claimed that the legislature had blocked Brexit. "They are tired of the fighting," she said. "They are tired of the political games and the arcane process series."
She added, "I'm on your side."
The legislators of the parties said that it was May who had abused Brexit – and that it was their conservative party and 75 hardened Brexitians who blocked the passage of their exit business.
Some saw the message of "We vs. Parliament" in May's speech as threatening – and there was no way to convince critics from the middle of the street to swing behind their deal.
On the morning after the May speech, Commons spokesman John Bercow told parliament, "None of you is a traitor," adding, "The only duty every Member of Parliament has is to do what he or she believes is right."
Wes Streeting, a Labor Party worker, said May's message may be angry with members of parliament, some of whom are already receiving death threats.
He called May's speech "brutal and irresponsible." If any of us suffer damage, it must take its share of the responsibility. "
A Downing Street spokeswoman told reporters that she "flatly" rejected the claim that the Prime Minister's statement threatened lawmakers.
But the legislator said the rhetoric violated May's case.
"There is absolutely no chance that she will be able to attract MEPs in sufficient numbers," said Lisa Nandy, another Labor MP, the ITV broadcaster. "It was an attack on liberal democracy itself. , , I will not support a government that pursues such a ruthless, dangerous approach. "
Sam Gyimah, a conservative party member of parliament, told the BBC that May's new approach was "a big blow". He said that he would not be blackmailed and that the deal was still a poor business.
Some of the 48% who voted in favor of staying in the European Union in the Brexit referendum in June 2016 became increasingly nervous, which could happen in the coming days.
A public petition page called in May to stop Brexit attracted more than half a million signatures in a matter of hours – and then crashed. The website of the petitions of the British Parliament has been closed on Thursday morning due to traffic.
Booth reported from London. Karla Adam in London and Quentin Ariès in Brussels contributed to this report.