Deadline for British exit from the EU may be extended until September 2019
January 17, 2019 @ 12:21 UTC
The scale of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit defeat has convinced the European Union to demand she radically rethink the U.K.’s red lines as the bloc signaled its willingness to delay Britain’s withdrawal by many months. The EU had been preparing to make limited concessions over the much-loathed Irish border backstop to help May convince Parliament to back her deal. But the 230-vote loss on Tuesday night changed that: European governments now believe a more fundamental shift is needed and the move has to come from the U.K. side, three diplomats said.
It adds to growing evidence that Brexit is unlikely to happen on the long-scheduled date of March 29, with European governments willing to delay Britain’s departure well into the second half of the year, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
But they told May she needs to enter into credible cross-party discussions to ensure there’s a unified British position on Brexit, then present the EU with a roadmap for the way forward. And that’s what May is now doing. After narrowly surviving a confidence vote on Wednesday, May invited the leaders of rival parties in for talks on how to move ahead with Brexit.
EU diplomats say the next step could be to reopen the political declaration — the part of the agreement dealing with future relations — to make it clearer that ties will remain close after the split. While many EU officials expect May to ask for an extension to the exit day, European governments still disagree over whether it should be allowed — and how long it should last. Some believe their vision for getting the deal passed can still be achieved over the next 10 weeks, others think an extension is needed that could stretch Britain’s membership well into the second half of 2019. One official said September 2019 could be the new deadline.
Radical Changes Needed to Secure Brexit, EU Tells May, Bloomberg, Jan 17