Jeremy Corbyn says UK may have to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit

GettyLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn
  • Jeremy Corbyn says Article 50 could be extended to provide enough time for Labour to renegotiate with the EU after a general election
  • “An extension would be a possibility because clearly there has to be time to negotiate,” he said.
  • It is the first time the Labour leader has discussed the possibility of pushing back the UK’s exit date.
  • Labour’s Brexit secretary Keir Starmer on Wednesday said he “genuinely” doesn’t think the UK can leave the EU by March.

LONDON – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that Article 50 may have to be extended to delay Brexit beyond March and provide time for a general election.

Speaking in Wakefield on Thursday, Corbyn called for Theresa May to call a general election and said an extension of Article 50 “would be a possibility” because Labour would need time to renegotiate a Brexit deal in Brussels.

“Moving into office right up against the clock, there would need to be time for that renegotiation,” he said.

“An extension would be a possibility because clearly there has to be time to negotiate.”

It is the first time the Labour leader has formally called on the prime minister to consider delaying the UK’s departure from the EU beyond March 29.

It comes ahead of next week’s parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which the prime minister is likely to lose by a significant margin.

Corbyn reiterated that Labour would vote against the prime minister’s deal and called for a general election, pledging that Labour would “negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in Parliament and in the country.”

A general election would likely also require an extension of Article 50 to allow time for a new government to form and to possibly renegotiate the Brexit deal in Brussels.

The EU has indicated that it would be willing to grant a technical extension of a few months in order to facilitate an election or a fresh referendum.

Brexit ‘simply not viable’

Keir starmer 2GettyKeir Starmer

It follows Labour’s Brexit secretary Keir Starmer saying on Wednesday that he “genuinely” doesn’t think the UK can leave the EU by March after the prime minister suffered a further round of humiliating setbacks in the Commons this week.

The shadow Brexit secretary said the scheduled date for the UK’s departure from the bloc was “simply not viable, for so many practical reasons.”

He said: “We are going to have to have a discussion I think next week, starting after Tuesday about where we go next.

“I genuinely think that leaving with no-deal would be catastrophic, I actually genuinely think we can’t do it on 29 March this year. It’s simply not viable, for so many practical reasons.

“So we’re going to have to look at what are the available options that realistically are still on the table, and what now are the merits of each of them.”

Labour has said it would seek to renegotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal to include permanent customs union membership.

Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday that Starmer’s intervention had been “reflecting the practicalities of how that negotiation would be undertaken.”

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