Angela Merkel calls for Brexit delay of 'several months'

Arriving at the summit, Mr Macron said he was "impatient" to hear what Mrs May had to say.

European Council president Donald Tusk has recommended that leaders of the remaining 27 EU countries approve an extension of up to a year, with a break clause allowing the United Kingdom to leave as soon as it ratifies its Withdrawal Agreement.

Speaking to journalists, Mrs May replied: "I know many people will be frustrated that this summit taking place at all".

Labour want to see the United Kingdom enter in a customs union with the EU after Brexit, but May has repeatedly said the government must be able to operate its own trade policy.

"But I and the government continue to work to find a way forward. We have been talking to the opposition, and those have been serious, constructive talks".

The government has said it will prepare for the United Kingdom to take part in European elections on 23 May if Brexit hasn't taken place yet, but Mrs May insists that can still be avoided.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on Friday if an extension is not granted.

"So we could leave on May 22 and start to build our brighter future".

European Council president Donald Tusk is also favouring a longer extension, and ahead of tonight's summit in Brussels wrote to EU leaders asking for them to back a plan which could Brexit delayed for another year.

Arriving at a summit in Brussels, the PM said she "greatly regrets" that the United Kingdom has not already left.

"So I hope that's an incentive to get that veto".

He added: "But at the same time, as Jeremy, Becky Long Bailey and Keir Starmer have all said at different points, we've yet to see clear evidence of the kind of real change and compromise that would be necessary to reach an agreement".

Mr Macron said the leaders would need "a lot of calm, a lot of determination and a lot of sang-froid".

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