Brussels ready to delay Brexit until 2021: sources
It has been reported that Brexit could be delayed until 2021 on the insistence of the EU if the UK asks for a delay in the process.
Analysts have argued that, under 2016 voting patterns, by 2021 the UK would have a pro-remain majority because of demographic changes.
Replacing the 21-month transition period with extra time as a member state would allow London and Brussels to develop plans for a future relationship to solve the issues of the British border in Ireland.
Embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, who has pushed the Brexit vote in the House of Commons back again until March 12, hinted at her staying on as premier after Brexit, despite calls for her departure by the summer.
The enfeebled leader said she was determined to push ahead with her domestic agenda if she managed to take the UK out of the EU on March 29.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has lost nine MPs in recent days, accused May of “recklessly running down the clock”.
He tweeted that May’s delay was intended to “force MPs to choose between her bad deal and a disastrous no deal”.
The embattled leftist leader said he would “work with MPs across the Commons to prevent no deal, break the deadlock and build support for our alternative plan”.
The European Commission apparently wants to avoid offering the UK a short extension, causing more uncertainty and more fruitless talks.
“If leaders see any purpose in extending, which is not a certainty given the situation in the UK, they will not do a rolling cliff-edge but go long to ensure a decent period to solve the outstanding issues or batten down the hatches,” one EU envoy was quoted saying by the Guardian.
“A 21-month extension makes sense as it would cover the multi-financial framework [the EU’s budget period] and make things easier. Provided leaders are not completely down with Brexit fatigue, and a three-month technical extension won’t cut it, I would expect a 21-month [delay]. It is doing the rounds in Brussels corridors. Martin Selmayr [the European Commission’s secretary general], among others, also fond of the idea.”
Another source said there was concern that there was no domestic consensus over May’s Withdrawal Agreement and UK’s trading relationship with the rest of Europe.
“Some say: ‘We can have Norway, we can have Canada, we can have a customs union, we can’t have a customs union. Some of them say we are not to be trusted because they think we are going to use the backstop to keep them in the EU forever, but if you look at the confusion, you can see precisely why the backstop is necessary,” said the source.
A delay to Brexit is looking more likely. Picture credit: Eurasia Times