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EU: Brexit delay rational; Theresa May insists it’ll happen on time

Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday plodded on with her belief that Brexit will happen on March 29, while her ministers, MPs across the political spectrum and even the European Union believe an extension to Article 50 is a “rational decision”.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2019 21:28 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019. (REUTERS PHOTO)
         

Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday plodded on with her belief that Brexit will happen on March 29, while her ministers, MPs across the political spectrum and even the European Union believe an extension to Article 50 is a “rational decision”.

Speaking in Egypt after talks with EU leaders, May said there is still more work to do on seeking changes to the withdrawal agreement to ensure its passage in parliament, but insisted that there is “real determination” to find a way through the impasse. Under Article 50, the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29.

May, who is under pressure to delay Brexit politically as well in terms of parliamentary procedure, is due to make a statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, before a debate and voting takes place on Wednesday.

May’s comments raised the level of frustration in London and elsewhere – European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called it ‘Brexit fatigue’ – while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned May the UK was “sleepwalking into a no-deal scenario” and needed to “wake up”.

Also read | No to no-deal: May’s cabinet ministers want to delay Brexit

Donald Tusk, European Council president, said after meeting May: “For me it is absolutely clear that there is no majority in the House of Commons to approve a deal. We will face an alternative: a chaotic Brexit, or extension”.

“The less time there is until the 29 March, the greater is the likelihood of an extension. And this is an objective fact; not our intention, not our plan, but an objective fact. I believe that in the situation we are in an extension would be a rational solution. But Prime Minister May still believes that she is able to avoid this scenario”.

Ministers, MPs across parties and others have expressed increasing ennui at the binary choice May has offered: support her agreement or leave the EU without a deal on March 29 – the worst-case scenario due to its debilitating impact on the UK’s economy and everyday life.

May’s cabinet remains divided on the way ahead. After three ministers broke ranks last week to suggest they favoured delaying Brexit, Damian Hinds, education secretary, insisted Brexit it would not be delayed.

“It is going to happen on 29 March,” he said in media interviews on Monday. Asked if he was 100% confident about that, he said: “Yes I am. Myself and my colleagues in government are working very hard, no one harder of course than the prime minister, to make sure we can get that deal over the time.

“There is a very good deal on the table. There are some legitimate concerns about the backstop in terms of the timing and so on. And it is important to get those resolved, but yes that is what we are doing.”

Also read | Immigration is good for Britain, we just need control: PM Theresa May

First Published: Feb 25, 2019 20:57 IST

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