LONDON — Brexit appears to be headed for yet another delay, but just how long the extension might last remains uncertain.
Politically weak and low on options, British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday to ask for the official divorce date to be pushed back to June 30.
If she somehow manages to get the British Parliament to agree on a deal before then — something she's repeatedly failed to do — she suggested the delay would be terminated early.
"It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion," May wrote. "This impasse cannot be allowed to continue. In the U.K. it is creating uncertainty and doing damage to faith in politics."
However, in the past European leaders have repeatedly rejected such a medium-term extension, offering May only the options of short pause to pass her deal or a far longer one to work out something else.
Tusk is open to what is being called a "flextension" — a delay that could be cut short — but instead of May's June 30 suggestion, he wants it to last up to one year, according to European officials speaking anonymously with The Associated Press and Reuters.
E.U. leaders are due to meet Wednesday and all 27 must unanimously agree on any outcome.
No matter the length, any deferral would come as another twist in a crisis that has all but consumed the collective British consciousness.
Britons have spent the past two years gearing up for their European exit — either with eager expectation or fear — only to have it postponed once already, and now possibly again next week.
Under the current law, the U.K. is due to leave the E.U. next Friday — April 12 — which itself is an extension from the original withdrawal date of March 29.
"Having reluctantly sought an extension to the Article 50 period last month, the government must now do so again," May wrote Friday, referring to the Article 50 clause that sets out the U.K.'s European departure.
An extension of any length would mean the U.K. preparing to take part in European elections that are happening in May. In her letter, the prime minister said that if possible she wanted to cut short the extension before that date by passing a deal in Parliament.
So far, this has proved difficult to say the least. May has negotiated a deal with the E.U. but it has been rejected over and over by British lawmakers, who have also failed to rally around any other alternative plan.
With her options growing increasingly limited, the Conservative prime minister is currently in talks with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, something that has provoked uproar and suspicion from both parties.
If there is no intervention before next Friday, then the country will crash out of the bloc with no deal at all, a Brexit scenario many experts see as risking economic calamity.