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Thursday 14 November 2019

'Brexit will never end', says Leo as EU looks to extension of deadline

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Brexit will "never end" unless the UK decides to reverse its decision to leave the EU, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

As EU leaders delayed making a decision on another Brexit extension until next week, Mr Varadkar said that even when the current debate ends, a fresh one will begin.

"Every now and then I do have the feeling as to when will it ever end?" he said.

"Actually, it will never end. Unless they reverse it, which is very unlikely, it will never end."

Pressure

The EU is currently considering pushing the Brexit deadline from next Thursday until January 31.

However, French president Emmanuel Macron is understood to be arguing that a shorter extension should be granted.

One EU diplomat said France favoured a delay until November 15 or 30 to pressure the British parliament to approve the Withdrawal Agreement.

British prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to set aside time for the deal to be debated in the House of Comm-ons over the next fortnight, but in return, opposition MPs must agree to a general election on December 12.

Mr Johnson insisted yesterday that MPs need to commit to the election date "to have any credibility about delivering Brexit".

In a message to the Labour Party, he said: "Time for Corbyn - man up. Let's have an election on December 12."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would support an election "providing the prime minister comes to parliament on Monday and makes it absolutely clear he is going to make sure there is no crash out".

"If he comes on Monday and says that, OK," he added.

To secure an election, Mr Johnson, who leads a minority government, must win support from two-thirds of the House of Commons. He has twice failed to do this.

Speaking on Today FM's Dermot And Dave show yesterday, Mr Varadkar predicted the Brexit deal will be ratified "sooner or later".

Clarity

It is now unlikely that there will be clarity on a further extension before the House of Commons sits on Monday.

At this stage, a special summit of EU leaders is not viewed as necessary. However, one may be called if a consensus among the remaining 27 EU members cannot be reached.

Details of the delay may not be finalised until as little as 60 hours before Britain is due to leave.

According to a draft document seen by the Reuters news agency, a delay is to be granted "with the view to allowing for the finalisation of the ratification" of the divorce agreement.

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