- Theresa May could be forced to delay Brexit, one of her ministers said on Monday.
- The UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March but May is struggling to get her deal through Parliament.
- Digital Minister Margot James said on Monday that the prime minister could be forced to seek an extension to the Article 50 process that will take the UK out of the EU.
- EU member states would need to unanimously agree any extension.
LONDON – Theresa May could be forced to delay Brexit in order to prevent crashing out of the European Union without a deal, one of her ministers admitted on Monday.
The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU at the end of March this year.
However, Conservative Digital Minister Margot James told the BBC on Monday that the UK government could be forced to seek an extension if MPs vote down the prime minister’s deal with the EU this month.
James told the BBC that she hoped MPs would get behind May’s deal, but added: “If that proves to be impossible then I think we have very little time left, but we might have to extend Article 50.
She added: “But I think it’s very unlikely that Parliament will actually stare down the barrel of that particular gun. And I think it’s far more likely that Parliament will get behind the deal.”
Any extension would have to be unanimously agreed by EU member states before it could come into effect.
Downing Street has also repeatedly insisted that the UK will leave the EU at the end of the Article 50 exit process.
However, with more than a hundred Conservative MPs pledged to vote against her deal and seven Brexit-related pieces of legislation yet to pass through Parliament, pressure is growing on the prime minister to seek an extension.
Asked about James’ comments on Monday, a spokesperson for the prime minister insisted there were no plans to extend Article 50.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Brexit Secretary suggested that any request to extend could be blocked by the EU.
“Unless the House is for an option then no deal is the alternative,” he said, adding “It is not a unilateral decision of the UK government to extend.”
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