The Telegraph newspaper cited three unidentified EU sources as saying British officials had been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on an extension of Article 50, which sets out the conditions for leaving the EU.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay denied the report and said London would not seek to extend the divorce while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was not time to discuss such a course. Ireland, though, said it would not stand in the way if Britain made such a request.
“Certainly from an Irish perspective, if such an ask happens, we won’t be standing in the way on that,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told journalists after a meeting with Maas in Dublin.
“If it is the case that at some point in the future that the British government seeks an extension of Article 50, then that is something that will have to get consideration at an EU level,” Coveney said.
Ireland’s economy would be hit hard by a disorderly Brexit and the most contentious part of May’s deal is an insurance plan aimed at preventing a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
May is said to intend to “move swiftly” if her deal is voted down in parliament, as seems likely. The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29th so 80 days from now. One is reminded of Phileas Fogg’s race around the world but perhaps the more appropriate literary comparison is with Don Quixote and tilting at windmills, but this time in the Low Countries.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top