December 12, 2018 / 12:15 PM / 7 months ago

EU leaders to issue Brexit statement on Thursday - Tusk

FILE PHOTO - European Council President Donald Tusk attends a news conference after the extraordinary EU leaders summit to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will issue a formal statement on Brexit late on Thursday after hearing from Prime Minister Theresa May on the state of Britain’s plans to leave the bloc, EU summit chair Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

In a letter to leaders, the European Council president said that May would brief the other 27 leaders before dinner on Thursday and that after a dinner discussion devoted to foreign affairs, May would leave them to “adopt Brexit conclusions”.

Diplomats say the EU could use the format of such legally binding summit conclusions to offer clarifications to Britain on how the withdrawal agreement would work, notably in how the so-called “Irish border backstop” might be implemented.

Tusk also said leaders would discuss their preparations for Britain failing to reach a deal, following a leadership challenge to May and her failure to win parliamentary backing for the Brexit package she agreed with the Union last month.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald ; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel

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