News | Published January 31 2019

Hunt admits possibility of Brexit delay

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has hinted at the possibility of an extension of the March 29 deadline. This makes him the most senior Tory to have conceded this possibility. Whether or not this happens, he says, depends on the progress that is made in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, he like others in the cabinet, rest their hopes on Theresa May meeting the deadline.

After Theresa May told the House that she is seeking “alternative arrangements” with regard to the backstop, she was rebuffed by the EU. Michel Barnier, for example, told her that the backstop arrangement was not up for renegotiation, and that it was “part and parcel” with the previously agreed deal.

In less than two months, the prime minister must not only propose a way forward, but also ensure that all the secondary legislation passes through parliament – a feat that an increasing number in the House, especially from the opposition benches, believe is now impossible given the time constraints.

Jeremy Hunt’s concession that this is a possibility means that, even at the highest levels of Tory leadership, doubts are beginning to emerge over Theresa May’s ability to meet the March 29.

He told Radio 4 today that "It is true that if we ended up approving the deal in the days before the 29 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. We can't know at this stage exactly which of those scenarios would happen."

Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, also seemed to suggest some degree of likelihood of a delay, stating that she has prepared the House for "a couple of extra weeks" in case of such an event.

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Authored by

Thomas Wilson
Political Editor
January 31 2019

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