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Three British ministers say Brexit should be delayed if no deal is reached

The ministers’ warning comes ahead of next week’s crucial vote in the House of Commons.
Feb 23rd 2019, 9:52 AM 8,198 12

Brexit Business Secretary Greg Clark, Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Justice Secretary David Gauke Source: PA Wire/PA Images

BREXIT SHOULD BE delayed if the UK parliament doesn’t approve a deal in the next few days, three British cabinet ministers have warned. 

Writing in the Daily Mail, Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark said it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay Britain’s departure rather than crash out of the EU on 29 March with no deal. 

The three ministers acknowledged British Prime Minister Theresa May’s “extraordinary determination and resilience” in working on a deal to leave the EU. 

However, they said there “simply will not be time to agree a deal and complete all the necessary legislation” before 29 March. 

They warned that there could be serious damage to the economy and national security in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

“Our national security will be weakened. For example, co-operation with our EU allies depends upon the free flow of data between our authorities. Such co-operation will not be possible unless we reach agreement as to how this will work when we are outside the EU. No such agreement is in place,” they wrote. 

The drafted Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by the House of Commons, with most MPs opposing the deal over the backstop, which would provide for an EU-UK customs union if no other trade or customs agreement is struck that would avoid a border on the island of Ireland.

Because of this, with less than 40 days until the UK leaves the EU, a no-deal Brexit is looking more likely than ever.

The ministers’ warning comes ahead of next week’s crucial vote in the House of Commons. On Wednesday, MPs are expected to consider an amendment to give Parliament the opportunity to delay Brexit and stop a no-deal scenario if there is no agreement made with the EU by the middle of March, the BBC reported

“If we cannot achieve a parliamentary breakthrough in the next few days, the country will face a choice. We could crash out on March 29 or we could try to leave with a deal at a later date,” the trio wrote. 

“Beyond the next few days, there simply will not be time to agree a deal and complete all necessary legislation before March 29,” they said. 

If there is no breakthrough in the coming week, the balance of opinion in Parliament is clear – that it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29.

Theresa May plans

May is to meet with EU leader Donald Tusk tomorrow ahead of a summit with Arab leaders, but a Brexit breakthrough should not be expected, according to officials. 

BELGIUM-BRUSSELS-EU-JUNCKER-BRITAIN-PM-MEETING British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Tusk did not meet May when she was in Brussels earlier the week for talks with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, and officials here do not expect a breakthrough when he sees her tomorrow afternoon. 

“There will be no deal in the desert in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a summit between the EU and the Arab states,” an EU source told reporters in Brussels.

Another official said: “It’s an opportunity where everyone can talk, but don’t expect a deal there.”

On Friday, EU negotiator Michel Barnier told France’s Europe 1 radio it was time for May to take a decision and present a Brexit plan to her parliament.   

“We don’t need extra time, what we need now is a decision and for everyone to take responsibility,” he said.

He did not exclude granting Britain more negotiating time, but said it was now up to the British “to take their responsibilities and assume the consequences of decisions they took democratically”.

With reporting by AFP

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Hayley Halpin

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