Brexit stretches into extra time
New Delhi: The possibility of Britain not leaving the European Union by March 29 had been mentioned by this writer in Millennium Post nine months ago in the August 1 issue with the headline Stretching into extra time. So it appears to be on course, with Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU having agreed on an extension of divorce date by six months to October 31.
But the UK parliament deadlock continues even though the much feared departure with a crash out on March 29 has been averted, thanks to the EU 27 bloc granting extension of Article 50 after a five-hour session lasting into early hours of the morning in Brussels. The EU gesture also averts the dreaded possibility of the UK exiting Friday this week.
But it also comes with a "message (warning) from European Council president Donald Tusk "to British friends" which read: "please do not waste this time." Between now and October 31. The extension also means that the United Kingdom must participate in European Union elections next month — May 22-23 — or leave on June 1 without a deal.
Speaking to reporters after winning the extension in Brussels, May acknowledged: "I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward."
The UK will continue to hold full membership rights and obligations of the EU during the extension period , probably costing about one billion pounds a month. .
EU leaders are of course worried about who might replace May as prime minister. The six-month extension could evaporate with Britain as divided as ever. Nevertheless, as BBC Europe editor Katya Adler summed up: "We've done our bit. Now you do yours. It's up to you."
Prime Minister May appears to have won the Brussels round for extension but still faces the music at home as she returns to the House of Commons.Talks between the government and Labour party are set to continue for a pretty long time.
Parliament is scheduled to break up for Easter after Thursday until April 23 with more cross party negotiations and unending salvos from MPs and the press.