British and European officials are reportedly discussing a possible extension of the March 29 deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
This is amid growing fears that a Brexit agreement clinched by Prime Minister Theresa May will be voted down in the UK parliament.
Despite the EU’s repeated warnings that a renegotiation of the deal was not an option, UK negotiators have been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on an extension of the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50, which acts as London’s formal notice for the divorce, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday, citing unnamed EU sources.
In June 2016, 52 percent of Britons partaking in an EU referendum voted in favor of Brexit while 48 percent opted for staying in the bloc.
The vote forced former PM David Cameron to resign. May, Cameron’s then pro-EU Home Secretary, was elected the new PM and formally triggered the Article 50 on March 29, 2017.
Today, as the two-year deadline nears its end, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain.
British lawmakers have indicated that May’s deal stands no chance to pass the House of Commons next week, when it finally comes up for a vote after a long delay by May.
The premier postponed the original vote in early December out of fear she would lose over a controversial clause that concerns the future of the Irish border.
The deal’s opponents say the so-called “backstop” clause undermines the UK’s sovereignty because it effectively separates Northern Ireland from the mainland Britain.
The EU insists it should be able to include Northern Ireland in its customs union and move the border to the Irish Sea until a mechanism is found for bilateral trade.
May has warned lawmakers that she would push ahead with a no-deal Brexit if they reject her agreement with the EU.