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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Brexit extension: politicians react to EU proposals

Theresa May warned that she must be 'open' to alternative Brexit solutions

European Union leaders, too, appear unsure about how best to proceed. AP 
European Union leaders, too, appear unsure about how best to proceed. AP 

As Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May returns home on Friday to make one last ditch attempt at convincing members of parliament to support her Brexit deal, politicians have warned her that she must be open to alternatives despite the European Union’s proposed extension.

Opposition MP Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit committee in parliament, said that any amendments on an indicative vote on alternative solutions could be stalled by Mrs May if she is “not prepared to move an inch”.

"I'm afraid that's the story of the last 2 and 3/4 years because about a month ago she said 'my door is open, come and talk to me' but it was very evident that her mind was closed,” Mr Benn told BBC’s Radio 4.

“We need to open up this process because we have rejected her deal, we've rejected no-deal, the EU has decided to give us a little more time and we've really got to get on with it.”

The European parliament’s Brexit co-Ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has welcomed the decision to approve an extension to the Article 50 negotiation process.

An extension was granted on the condition that British MPs approve their prime minister’s withdrawal deal.

But if Theresa May’s deal is not approved by Commons next week, the EU will offer an extension until April 12 and expects the UK to indicate a way forward for consideration by the European Council.

The April 12 date is also critical because it is the final day the UK can notify the bloc about whether it will take part in the elections.

Meanwhile, Former Ukip leader an ardent Brexiteer Nigel Farage expects to take part in European elections and has said he will take over the leadership of the Brexit Party, he told the BBC’s Today programme.

When asked if he would stand again in any EU elections for the new party, Mr Farage said: “Absolutely I will.

“The Brexit Party was set up a few weeks ago, it's registered with the Electoral Commission, it is at the moment a virtual party - it's a website - we haven't launched,” he said.

“I will take over as the leader of the Brexit Party and I will lead this party into the European elections.”

Ireland’s European affairs minister Helen McEntee has said avoiding a hard border in a no-deal scenario will be “very difficult”.

Dublin will only enter into negotiations with the UK and EU Commission on how a future border would work when, or if, it becomes clear that a no-deal is the only option.

"If a no-deal scenario is the only option left and looking like that is going to happen then we need to sit down with the Commission and with the UK and we need to understand and work with each other and essentially this is negotiation as to how we can avoid borders on the island of Ireland and, be under no illusion, it's very difficult without a deal," she told RTE Radio One.

“We are not planning for a hard border and we have always said that.”

Updated: March 22, 2019 02:36 PM

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