European Union ministers insist Britain must justify Brexit delay

11 April, 2019, 13:42 | Author: Carlos George
  • EU ministers insist Britain must justify Brexit delay

Britain's government and opposition party are hoping to find a compromise Brexit deal ahead of further talks with European Union leaders.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he expected EU leaders to delay Brexit for "much more time" than May asked, on condition that it holds European elections.

"If the United Kingdom is not capable, nearly three years after the referendum, of coming forward with a solution that is supported by a majority, it will have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own", he said.

Instead, the EU is set to demand that the United Kingdom "refrain" from any actions that "jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives" while it remains a member of the bloc for up to a year more.

If they refuse, Britain faces a sudden departure on Friday, the deadline set a few weeks ago by the EU.

British MPs have rejected a deal May negotiated with the European Union three times, but the PM is now in talks with the opposition Labour party to try break the deadlock.

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted that the duration of delaying Brexit past the current deadline day, April 12, hinges on what "purpose" UK PM Theresa May has for extending the process.

A draft copy of the summit conclusions seen by AFP before the leaders sat down to finalise it said "an extension should last only as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than [XX.XX.XXXX]".

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Britain could also choose to stop the entire Brexit process by revoking Article 50, the formal procedure for member states that want to leave.

Once granted an extension to, say, the end of this year, a new British government would be unable to leave earlier unless it signed up to the withdrawal agreement, something Europeans are well aware that some of May's rivals are unwilling to do.

Unable to convince enough of her own Conservatives of the merits of her deal to get it passed, May is courting socialist Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party wants to keep Britain more closely tied to the bloc after Brexit. Today, Parliament debated how long an extension to seek.

Sterling rose half a per cent to $US1.3122 on speculation that Merkel could offer a five-year limit on the "backstop", the controversial Irish border arrangement, but then fell back. Talks resume on Thursday.

The bill received its Royal Assent from the Queen on Monday night, and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs that this meant there will be a government motion on Tuesday asking the House to approve the PM's request to the European Union to delay Brexit until June 30.

But these talks are moving slowly, and she is under intense pressure from hardline Brexit supporters in her Conservative party not to compromise.

She is considering giving MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum in a bid to break the deadlock in negotiations with Labour, holding discussions with Cabinet ministers about the prospect of a Commons vote on whether to enshrine a commitment to a second referendum in law.

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