Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales
As Members will be aware the European Council met on 10 April to consider the request from the Prime Minister for a further extension of the deadline for the UK to leave the European Union set under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
The Council agreed that the deadline could be extended until 31 October 2019, but also that the UK could leave the EU at an earlier date, should it ratify the Withdrawal Agreement which has been negotiated. A condition of the extension beyond 1 June 2019 is that the UK participates in the elections to the European Parliament. The Conclusions of the European Council can be found here: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/XT-20015-2019-INIT/en/pdf
The Prime Minister has accepted this decision.
I wrote to the Prime Minister on the eve of the summit to urge her to accept a flexible extension if this were offered. I am therefore pleased that the UK has been given a breathing space in which to determine a way forward which can command broad-based support in Parliament and in the country.
However, it is essential that this delay is not seen as an opportunity for any of the Westminster parties to indulge in further in-fighting and brinkmanship. This would only further erode public trust in democratic politics which is already at a dangerously low level. It is absolutely incumbent on elected politicians to act responsibly.
We are therefore urging both the UK Government and the Opposition to step up the intensity of their negotiations in order to find a way forward which, in line with the established position adopted by the National Assembly, provides sufficient reassurance that the future relationship with the EU will safeguard the interests of people in Wales and across the UK.
As Members may be aware, I had discussed with the Llywydd the possibility of a recall of the Assembly to discuss the outcome of the European Council meeting. Given that the threat of an immediate no deal crash out of the EU has been averted, I have concluded this is not necessary.
However, there will of course be an early opportunity after the recess for the Assembly to discuss this issue, which continues to be of critical importance to our nation.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.