BREXIT: The Prime Minister, Theresa May has told Donald Tusk that she might have to delay Brexit
The prime minister, Theresa May has told Donald Tusk that she might have to delay Brexit – even if MPs back her withdrawal agreement in Parliament next month.
Theresa May said to the European Council president last weekend that extra time could be essential to implement necessary legislation, according to a diplomatic note seen by BuzzFeed News.
The briefing made to the ambassadors of the EU’s 27 remaining countries said she could ask for a ‘short and technical extension’ even if her deal finally wins the support of the House of Commons.
May has promised that a meaningful vote on her deal will be held on the 12th March, just short of 17 days before the UK is due to leave the European Union.
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘As the Prime Minister made clear to President Tusk, we are absolutely focused on getting the Brexit deal over the line and passing the necessary legislation so that we leave the EU on the 29th March. That is within our grasp as we approach the Meaningful Vote.’
A potential delay – and its length – has to be signed off by the leaders of the European Council, just as the withdrawal agreement.
Earlier this week, May said she would be putting the option of an extension to Brexit from the scheduled for the 29th March to lawmakers – if they fail to back any revised withdrawal agreement she comes up with following discussions with the EU.
This is the first time since the UK triggered the Article 50 negotiations to begin the process of leaving the EU that Theresa May has acknowledged a delay may be necessary.
Tory minister George Eustice resigned as farming and fisheries minister in protest at ‘humiliating’ plan to extend Article 50. He said: ‘Developments this week will lead to a sequence of events culminating in the EU dictating the terms of any extension requested and the final humiliation of our country.’
This comes after it was revealed that the government has been forced to pay Eurotunnel £33 million over controversial shipping contracts handed out in the event of a Brexit no-deal.
Eurotunnel slammed the Department of Transport’s ‘secretive’ process of giving contracts to firms, like Seaborne Freight, which had no ships and had never run a ferry service. It has since emerged Eurotunnel, which operates and manages the Channel Tunnel, has withdrawn its legal claim against the Government after reaching a multi-million pound agreement.