The European Union is preparing to delay Brexit until at least July due to the domestic opposition facing British Prime Minister Theresa May, The Guardian reported. A special leaders’ summit to postpone Brexit day is expected to be convened by European Council President, Donald Tusk, once the UK files a request. The length of the delay would depend on the reason given by May for the request.
“Should the prime minister survive and inform us that she needs more time to win round parliament to a deal, a technical extension up to July will be offered", a senior EU official said.
“The first session of the parliament is in July. You would need UK MEPs there if the country is still a member state. But things are not black and white in the European Union", an EU diplomat said.
EU officials cited by The Guardian have denied that discussions about extending article 50 had already begun with the UK, noting that “the Brits have certainly not talked about this recently", and that it is “the last thing they want to talk about".
However, according to The Independent, senior Conservative ministers have admitted that even if May wins the Tuesday vote, there could still not be enough time to prepare the amount of legislation needed to leave the EU by 29 March.
“It will be difficult to pass the legislation by the end of March, even if the deal goes through", a cabinet minister told The Independent, noting that “no one is going to object if we need a couple more weeks".
Officials have also suggested that both the EU and Brexiteers were unlikely to object to a short delay as long as the UK’s withdrawal was absolutely guaranteed.
“There are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so", May will say, noting that a delay instead of a no-deal scenario would help to avoid economic shock and prepare a future relationship with the EU.
“The vast majority of people would have had no truck with an argument that we should leave the EU in spite of a vote to remain, or that we should return to the question in another referendum", she will say.
May is also expected to ask lawmakers to consider the consequences that their actions would have on the faith of the British people in their democracy.