The Government is not planning to delay Brexit by extending Article 50, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said today.
Claims emerged yesterday that UK officials are ‘putting out feelers’ on pushing back the date of the UK’s departure and discussing the process with their EU counterparts, according to The Telegraph.
Mr Barclay denied the reports in an interview on the BBC’s Today Programme, saying no talks with the EU had taken place over the matter.
He said: “I can be very clear that the government’s policy is to leave on 29th March.”
Mr Barclay addressed some of the complexities of extending Article 50, a move which would need to be approved by the EU and could involve the UK taking part in European parliamentary elections in May.
“It’s not a unilateral decision for the UK. That is not a decision the UK Government could take, it would require the consent of all 27 member states,” he said.
“It would also generate some very practical issues, for example EU parliamentary elections at the end of May.”
“The real question for Members of Parliament who voted to give the public a say through the European referendum in 2016, who voted in large numbers to trigger Article 50, is the consequence of triggering Article 50 is you either have a deal and the EU have been clear that the only deal on the table is the PM’s deal. You either have a deal or you have no deal.”
His remarks came the day after digital minister Margot James suggested that Brexit could be delayed in order to avoid a no-deal exit.
The reports emerged as Theresa May faces an uphill struggle to get her Brexit deal approved by the Commons.
MPs will vote on the deal she negotiated by the EU on January 15 after days of debate in Parliament, Downing Street confirmed today.Mr Barclay will open the debate, and the Prime Minister will deliver the closing speech.
The date of the vote was pushed back until after Christmas after minister accepted that the deal was heading for a crushing defeat.
It has been suggested that Brexit could be delayed if the deal is defeated in the ‘meaningful vote’ to allow time to renegotiate elements of the deal.
However the EU has repeatedly stated that it is not willing to reopen talks on any element of the agreement.