British cabinet ministers have secretly discussed plans to delay their country’s exit from the European Union by eight weeks, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Wednesday.
According to the British broadsheet, ministers would like to delay Brexit by two months if Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement passes through Parliament to allow time for necessary legislation.
With Britain due to leave the EU on March 29, the “grace period” would mean Brexit being postponed to May 24.
Although May has consistently said she plans to deliver Brexit “on time,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox have recently suggested Brexit may be delayed to finalise a deal.
“If we do get the deal and we need a little bit more time to put all the legislation everybody on both sides will take a reasonable approach to that,’’ Hammond told news channel ITV recently.
Fox, who in the past has argued against delaying Brexit, admitted recently that “a short delay” to create the legislation necessary to implement the deal would work for most legislators.
May, who got the support of parliament to renegotiate a “backstop” protocol on the Irish border in the withdrawal agreement, has promised to report back to lawmakers on Feb. 13, when a second vote on the Brexit deal is expected.
However, the prime minister’s initial plan was rejected by a huge margin on Jan. 15.