EU 'considering further Brexit extension'
Offer seen as giving PM-in-waiting Johnson a chance to enter new negotiations and avoid catastrophe
published : 20 Jul 2019 at 16:41
writer: Bloomberg News
LONDON: The European Union is preparing to offer the next British prime minister — almost certain to be Boris Johnson — a Brexit extension beyond Oct 31 to provide yet another attempt to reach an agreement, <i>The Guardian</i> has reported, citing unidentified EU officials.
The extended period of EU membership, while allowing for an agreement to be reached, could also be sold to pro-Brexit members of the Conservative Party as giving the country the time it needs to prepare for leaving without a deal, the newspaper said.
Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming European Commission president, has indicated she is open to a further delay. “I stand ready for further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason,” she told the European Parliament July 16.
In any case, EU leaders are also considering the steps they would need to take to avoid a crisis in the event that Johnson does press ahead with no deal on Oct 31, The Guardian said.
The British Parliament has voted against a no-deal Brexit, which gives the next prime minister limited room to manoeuvre. Johnson has generally been in favour of leaving without an accord, though he has been vague about how such an abrupt departure would be handled.
Many business leaders have warned that a no-deal Brexit would be nothing less than catastrophic for the British economy.
Johnson is ahead in polls of grassroots Conservatives who will choose the next leader. The party’s members are overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit and regard Johnson as more likely to deliver on the referendum result of three years ago than his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The winner of the leadership contest will be announced on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump Friday said Johnson would do a “great job” on Brexit, and would clean up the “disaster” left by his predecessor, Theresa May.