The EU sees this “technical extension” as an opportunity to give British Parliament time to pass necessary legislation related to its departure from the Union, as anything longer than three months would put the UK under pressure to take part in European elections on May 23-26, Bloomberg reported quoting an anonymous source.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly spoken out against a delay, saying she wants to take the UK out of the EU as scheduled at the end of March, yet she is racing against the clock in an attempt to gain the approval of both the Parliament and the EU on changing the most controversial part of her deal – the “backstop” on the border of Northern Ireland. Yet the EU signalled Thursday that talks between Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier didn’t reach a breakthrough.
EU officials say the three-month extension would happen under their most optimistic scenario and there is still a risk that the UK could leave the bloc March 29 without a deal. Alternatively, May could be forced to contemplate a longer delay if she can’t get backing for the agreement and avoid a no-deal scenario, according to one official.
Earlier on Thursday 100 moderate lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party signed a letter, warning they would vote against her to force her to delay Brexit and take no-deal off the table, according to the Telegraph. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond also hinted on Thursday that he might quit the government if the UK ends up with no deal.