UK, EU are discussing possible Brexit delay

British authorities, however, denied the information

Photo: EPA Britain`s Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (Brexit Minister) Stephen Barclay

British and European officials are reportedly discussing the possibility of extending the formal exit process from the bloc amid fears a Brexit deal will not be approved by March 29, The Daily Telegraph announced, citing unidentified sources.

According to the newspaper British officials had been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on an extension of Article 50, a part of the Lisbon Treaty which sets out the conditions for leaving the EU. News comes as EU leaders and officials have said over recent weeks that they would be open to extending the Brexit process if Britain asked – though have made clear that, so far, May has stuck to her position that she will seek no delay.

“We are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March,” British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said when asked about the Telegraph report. “We are not looking to extend.”

He added that extending the Article 50 exit process was not a unilateral decision for the UK since extending would require the unanimous agreement of EU heads of state in the European Council.

The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain as British lawmakers are expected on 15 January to vote down the divorce deal that May struck with the EU in November. Business chiefs and investors fear leaving the EU without an approved deal would silt up the arteries of trade, spook financial markets and dislocate supply chains for the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Besides leaving without a deal or on the terms of May’s deal, other options include delaying Brexit, calling a parliamentary election or holding another referendum on EU membership.

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