A delay 'doesn't deliver' says Theresa May at EU-Arab states summit

Prime Minister Theresa May has pushed back over her resistance to delaying Brexit by saying any extension isn't "addressing the issues".

At a summit in Egypt ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston asked Mrs May why she was resisting a delay to Brexit beyond March 29.

She said: "An extension to Article 50, a delay in this process, doesn't deliver a decision in Parliament, it doesn't deliver a deal. All it does is precisely what the word 'delay' says.

"Any extension of Article 50 isn't addressing the issues.

"We have it within our grasp. I've had a real sense from the meetings I've had here and the conversations I've had in recent days that we can achieve that deal.

"It's within our grasp to leave with a deal on March 29 and that's where all of my energies are going to be focused."

It comes as Labour announced it would formally back a second referendum.

Theresa May meets President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at the EU-League of Arab States Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Credit: PA

Speaking in Sharm el Sheikh, Mrs May said she had had "good" meetings with EU leaders including European Council president Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs Merkel, Mark Rutte, Leo Varadkar and Guiseppe Conte.

Mr Tusk revealed that he had discussed the legal and procedural process for extending withdrawal talks under Article 50 with the prime minister when he met her on Sunday in Egypt.

He said that he believes delaying the UK's withdrawal beyond March 29 is now a "rational solution", warning that the only alternative, if MPs cannot agree a deal, is "a chaotic Brexit".

Despite facing pressure from pro-Europe Tories for delay, the prime minister said: "It's within our grasp to leave with a deal on March 29 and that's where all of my energies are going to be focused

A UK team will visit Brussels on Tuesday for further negotiations on "the legally-binding assurances that the UK Parliament needs on the backstop", she said.

Mrs May's comments come as Labour MP Yvette Cooper said she is seeking to secure a Brexit amendment that would allow Parliament to tell the prime minister to get an extension to the negotiation process.

She said the move was supported by MPs from all parties with a wide range of views on the best final outcome, who all agreed that "we cannot just go over the cliff-edge at the end of March because that is irresponsible and not in the national interest".