European Union leaders will grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Britain's fraught exit at an emergency summit on Wednesday (April 10) but will argue over how long and on what terms. French President Emmanuel Macron was pushing to withhold any commitment to extend Friday's deadline much beyond elections to the European Parliament on May 23-26 unless May binds herself, and any potentially more anti-EU successor, not to disrupt the workings of the Brussels machinery.
Three weeks ago, Macron's impatience with France's historic cross-Channel rival dominated the last summit, when Brexit was put back by a fortnight.
Diplomats said he would again face a more cautious line from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she favoured an extension of "several months".
Legally, Britain is due to leave the EU on Friday with no transition to new trading arrangements.
But no one expected that to happen as leaders lined up to insist on arrival at the summit that they would not force Britain out in a disorderly departure.
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