A group of Cabinet Ministers are now considering a delay to Brexit that would mean the UK would not leave the European Union on 29th March, as has been promised repeatedly by everyone in government including Theresa May. This would break trust with the British people and lead to considerable anger.
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Home Secretary Sajid Javid has reportedly told one of his colleagues that he believes Article 50 may have to be extended and Brexit pushed back.
That’s according to The Telegraph who also estimate that around a third of the Cabinet now think that they may need more time to negotiate a deal with the EU. But the law is clear that the UK is leaving deal or No Deal on 29th March, so this would effectively be the government blocking a WTO Brexit.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also spoken publicly of the possibility of an extension of Article 50, saying: “It is true that if we ended up approving a deal in the days before the 29th March, then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation. But if we are able to make progress sooner then that might not be necessary.”
Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom has also mentioned the potential of a delay for a “couple of extra weeks” which she believes the European Union would agree to. Of course they would, Brussels want to keep the UK locked in as long as possible and any delay would boost the hopes of anti-Brexit hardliners.
To be fair Downing Street have sought to dismiss any such extension, saying: “There is no change to our position. We are not considering an extension to Article 50 and are committed to doing whatever it takes to have the statute books ready for when we leave the EU on March 29th this year.”
More recently the government line has been: “The Prime Minister’s position on this is unchanged. We will be leaving on 29th March.”
Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s attempt to force the government into a Brexit delay has just been rejected by Parliament and a Sky News poll found 60% of the public in agreement that any postponement would appear as a move to stop the UK leaving the EU completely. That would be incredibly bad for faith in democracy and politicians who have already had years to sort this out.
Do you think most people who say we should delay Brexit by extending article 50 are or are not trying to stop Brexit entirely?
Are not 23%
Don't know 17%
— Sky Data (@SkyData) January 30, 2019
The British government need to get tougher in negotiations with Brussels, make clear the country is leaving on 29th March and prepare to do that without a deal if necessary.