BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The ink was not yet dry on EU leaders’ deal to give Britain a hard-fought, second delay to Brexit until November when some diplomats and officials in the bloc grudgingly conceded: This may well not be the last extension.
European Union and British flags flutter in front of the chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
The Wednesday evening European Union summit ran into the wee hours of Thursday after staunch opposition from French President Emmanuel Macron to a longer postponement of Brexit swung the balance in favour of the Oct. 31 compromise.
European Commission Secretary General Martin Selmayr coined a new Twitter tag: #29MarchMeans12AprilMeans31Oct – a quip on how Britain had been due to leave the EU last month, then got a reprieve recess until Friday and now a new delay, months longer than London had sought.
Selmayr’s line seemed to be a play on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s now-mothballed slogan, “Brexit means Brexit.”
And what would come after Oct. 31?
More delays are on the cards, depending on developments in Britain, according to EU officials and diplomats.
“If Britain decides to hold a second Brexit referendum, we will extend again, even in June. That would make absolute sense. You cannot cut the maximum term. You can only extend it,” said a senior EU official who was present at the summit talks.
Another one echoed that: “The legal situation is that everything is possible. A week is a long time in politics and we have now given 29 weeks. That is a very, very long time and a lot could happen.”
To be sure,