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A handout photograph released by the U.K. Parliament on March 20, 2019, shows British Prime Minister Theresa May speaking during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) question and answer session in the House of Commons in London on March 20, 2019.JESSICA TAYLOR/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is still on course to crash out of the European Union next week even as Prime Minister Theresa May and EU officials continue to try to negotiate a delay to the Brexit deadline.

The United Kingdom is set to leave the EU on March 29 but on Wednesday Ms. May asked the EU to extend the deadline to June 30. She hoped the extension would give her time to finally win approval in parliament for a withdrawal agreement she reached with the EU. The deal has been rejected by members of Parliament twice but Ms. May has vowed to try once more, hoping some last-minute changes to key provisions will win over opponents.

The EU must agree to any delay and EU leaders will discuss the issue when they meet for a summit that begins on Thursday. On Wednesday Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council that represents leaders, said the bloc would consider a delay on one condition. “I believe that we could consider a short extension conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons,” he said. “The question remains open as to the duration of such an extension.” Mr. Tusk indicated that if the deal were approved, next week “we can finalize and formalize the decision on extension.” He did not say what would happen if the deal were rejected, but hinted that if needed, “I will not hesitate to invite [EU leaders] for a meeting to Brussels next week.”

EU leaders open to short Brexit extension if Theresa May can win support for deal

EU leaders have expressed exasperation with Ms. May and the British parliament for the Brexit turmoil and constant bickering over the agreement. “If [the EU Council] is to decide on extending the deadline for Britain, then we would like to know: Why, why, why?” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. Some leaders and EU officials have said the EU would consider a delay of up to two years if the Brexit deal was voted down again. That would mean the U.K. would have to participate in elections to the European parliament in May, something the British PM has said she wants to avoid. But the EU could also simply let the U.K. leave on March 29 as scheduled.

Late Wednesday, Ms. May took her pitch to the public and blamed MPs for the Brexit chaos. “You are tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows,” she said in an address to the country from her office at 10 Downing St. “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side. It is now time for MPs to decide.”

It’s now likely that Ms. May will try to push the deal through Parliament next week. But that won’t be easy. Opposition to the deal remains strong particularly among a group of her fellow Conservative MPs and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up Ms. May’s minority government. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow also ruled this week that the government can’t simply re-introduce the same agreement over and over. He said it would have to be substantially changed before he would allow a vote. Ms. May could try to overrule him, but she would need to win over a majority of MPs. If she did succeed in overruling the Speaker, she could push for a vote on the deal for the third time, but so far she doesn’t appear to have enough support.

It’s also not clear if her proposed three-month delay would resolve the impasse. If anything, the new deadline would embolden the deal’s opponents to keep rejecting the agreement in the hope the country leaves on June 30 without an agreement and instead begins negotiating a trade deal with the EU.

Ms. May has insisted for months that the March 29 deadline would not be extended. She’s been forced to back down because of sustained opposition to the deal and Mr. Bercow’s ruling. She told MPs on Wednesday that if the deal was rejected again, MPs “will have to decide how to proceed.”

Her comments drew cries of “resign” from opposition MPs and criticism from some Tory MPs. Tory MP Peter Bone said Ms. May had told the House more than 100 times that Brexit would not be delayed beyond March 29. “Prime Minister, if you continue to apply for an extension to [the deadline] you will be betraying the British people. If you don’t, you will be honouring their instruction,” he told MPs. Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who supports a referendum on the deal, told MPs: “I have never felt more ashamed to be a member of the Conservative Party or to be asked to lend [Ms. May] support."

Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said Ms. May still faces the same problem. “We can argue about [Mr. Bercow’s ruling] until the cows come home, but in the end it’s about May’s failure so far to win support in her own party and the DUP for her deal,” he said. “Unless and until that changes, all the parliamentary procedural fixes in the world won’t provide a solution.”