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Tusk said Britain still had all the options on Brexit available during the extension, from approving the stalled divorce deal, to changing its leave strategy to cancelling the departure altogether.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel interact during a European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels on April 10, 2019.

It is later passed to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council - which is made up of heads of state from EU countries -, who also laughs.

The prime minister was keen to stress that the extension to October 31 - and several leaders refused to rule out further delays - did not mean she would not deliver Brexit sooner and before, as she promised her rebellious party, she steps down.

But as May prepared to lay out her plan to her 27 colleagues, other officials suggested they would indeed be open to pushing back Brexit for several months if Britain undertakes to hold European elections in late May.

She will ask the leaders of the 27 remaining European Union nations to grant her an extension of Article 50 to June 30.

But one man was keeping them all from their beds: a highly worked-up Emmanuel Macron.

"What's indispensable is that nothing should compromise the European project in the months to come", he said.
British lawmakers have already rejected May's deal three times.

Six months "could be enough for a good solution if there is goodwill and majority for such solutions in London, in the House of Commons", said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, which represents leaders. In contrast to some testy recent summits, there were signs of warmth and even humor.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also reminded his British colleagues of 'the principle of honest cooperation between all member states, and we are convinced the United Kingdom will respect all its obligations'.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that Britain would not be forced out and that a chaotic no-deal departure must be avoided if at all possible, there was never any real doubt that May would get an extension.

If an extension is agreed, Brussels will portray it as a concession to Britain, with some members - particularly France - not keen to see the disruptive Brexit drama drag on much longer.

"I think the extension should be as short as possible".

Many Tories are furious at the prospect of participating in European elections given that the country voted to leave the EU almost three years ago.

May's future is uncertain, whatever the European Union decides.

The other 27 member states appeared likely to rule out pitching Britain into chaos, but French President Emmanuel Macros is keen to keep Westminster on a tight leash as he has voiced concern about the United Kingdom being involved in EU Parliamentary elections.

After her pledge to resign failed to get her deal over the line, she launched crisis talks with the opposition Labour Party in the hope of breaking the domestic deadlock. Labour favors a softer Brexit than the government has proposed, and wants to retain a close economic relationship with the bloc.