The message that European Council president Donald Tusk sent to the UK after European Union member states offered a six-month delay to Brexit, is not only one which the Prime Minister should heed but one that MPs, too, should give serious consideration during Easter recess from the House of Commons.
“Please do not waste this time”, were his words following the agreement of a second extension to the process, pushing the withdrawal date to Halloween and stopping the clock on a no-deal departure happening today.
Nearly three years have passed since the referendum returned a ‘Leave’ result and, though this delay gives Parliament more time to break the impasse and agree on a way forward, it pushes further back an outcome that was chosen democratically by the British public in June 2016.
It is a decision that will likely bring mounting pressure on Theresa May to stand down, especially given the extension is for much longer than she had hoped – and could now see the country participate in the European Parliament elections in May unless a withdrawal deal can be quickly ratified. Acknowledging “huge frustration” among voters, the PM told a Press conference early on Thursday morning that she still wanted to leave the EU “as soon as possible”, adding: “We must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest”.
With many question marks still remaining, no clear way forward agreed and more economic uncertainty – only yesterday, new research suggested the London construction market was falling behind the growth seen in other European capitals – Mr Tusk’s words become all the more significant. No more time can be wasted and Mrs May and MPs must use this recess to pause and reflect and ensure that when they return, the Brexit deadlock is broken.