UK prime minister Theresa May confirmed to the House of Commons on Wednesday that she had requested an extension to Article 50 in a letter to the European Commission, stating that Parliament has "faced the consequences of its decisions".
European Council president Donald Tusk received the letter from Mrs. May requesting the extension, an EU official told Reuters. European Council president Jean-Claude Junker has also confirmed receipt of the letter.
In the letter, Mrs. May requested an extension to Article 50 from Mr. Tusk "until June 30", stating that "failing to endorse the deal were unpredictable and potentially deeply unpalatable," and that a longer extension to the Brexit process would oblige the UK to call elections to the European Parliament.
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) March 20, 2019
"I do not believe that it would be in either of our interests for the UK to hold European Parliament elections," Mrs. May wrote. "I have therefore this morning written to President Tusk, the president of the European Council, informing him that the UK seeks an extension to the Article 50 period until June 30."
The Prime Minister also said she intends to put forward a motion as soon as possible after an upcoming EU Council meeting, including further domestic proposals on the Irish backstop.
— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) March 20, 2019
— Dan Carden MP (@DanCardenMP) March 20, 2019
Commenting on the Letter, a senior government source from Downing Street said: "There's a case for giving parliament more time to find a way forward but people in this country have been waiting nearly three years, they are fed up with parliament's failure to take a decision and the prime minister shares that frustration."
House of Commons speaker John Bercow has called for an emergency debate in Parliament later today.
How Have UK and EU Officials Responded?
Scottish National Party leader for Westminster Ian Blackford urged the Prime Minister in Commons on Wednesday that the "only way forward now is to give the decision back to the people".
"Will the Prime Minister give the people a say? If Westminster fails, Scotland will act," Mr. Blackford said.
In last week's Commons debate, Conservative MP David Lidington called Mrs. May's one-off extension to Article 50 "downright reckless", adding that it conflicted with the position of Commons.
Mr. Lidington said: "In the absence of a deal, seeking such a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless and completely at odds with the position that this House adopted only last night, making a no-deal scenario far more, rather than less, likely.
He added: "Not only that, but from everything we have heard from the EU, both in public and in private, it is a proposal it would not accept."
Chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission Michel Barnier said in a 13 March statement that the Commission was in a "very serious moment" due to increasing risks over Brexit, "including an accidental no deal", stating that he recommended that "nobody underestimates this risk or its consequences. "We do not want this scenario, we have always worked for a deal and an orderly withdrawal, but the European Union is ready to deal with this situation," Mr. Barnier said.