EU's Antonio Tajani says Brexit date can be delayed few weeks at most
Head of the European Parliament said a no-deal Brexit would be "the biggest mistake of all"
It is crucial that Britain be prevented from crashing out of the European Union without a deal, the head of the European Parliament said on Friday.
In an interview with the Funke group of newspapers, Antonio Tajani said the date of Brexit could be delayed past March 29, but by just a few weeks at most.
British MPs are to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan for a second time on Tuesday. Mrs May has said that, if her plan is defeated, MPs will be able to vote on Wednesday and Thursday on whether they want to leave the EU without a deal, or ask for a short delay to Brexit.
"It's a matter now of avoiding the biggest mistake of all – a chaotic Brexit without contractual arrangements in place," Mr Tajani said.
Such a disorderly no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the British economy and would also hurt the EU, Mr Tajani said, adding that he would be happy if Britain were to remain in the bloc.
Mr Tajani said the political declaration on Brexit could perhaps be slightly more clearly formulated but he ruled out changing the withdrawal agreement, especially on the Northern Ireland issue.
"I'm convinced that the exit date can only be delayed by a maximum of several weeks – from the end of March to the start of July at most," he said.
Mr Tajani said Britain would need to provide a reason for postponing its exit from the EU such as wanting to use the extra time to hold fresh elections or a new referendum.
"They've decided to leave - it's their problem, not ours," he added.
Mr Tajani said Britain's departure would deter other countries from leaving the bloc, adding: "We need to change the European Union but we need to stick together."
Updated: March 9, 2019 02:34 PM