London, 4 October 2019 (dpa/MIA) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted that he must request a Brexit delay beyond the current October 31 deadline if no deal is agreed with the European Union, the Press Association reported on Friday, citing court documents.
Johnson rejects the withdrawal agreement already negotiated with Brussels, aimed at smoothing Britain’s departure from the bloc, but has so far insisted that Britain will leave the EU at the end of the month – without a deal if necessary.
Last month, parliament rushed through legislation against Johnson’s will obliging him to write a letter asking for a three-month Brexit delay if a deal with Brussels has not been agreed by October 19, following a summit that week with EU leaders.
In early September, Johnson had said that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask for a Brexit extension. Speculation has been rife that he could find a legal loophole to get around the legislation.
But the documents submitted to Scotland’s highest civil court make clear that Johnson will not try to frustrate the so-called Benn Act requiring him to ask for a delay in the absence of a deal, the Press Association reported.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday that he would consider a British extension request. “An extension would be better than no deal,” he told reporters in Copenhagen after talks with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
“Brexit doesn’t end with the UK leaving,” the Irish premier added, noting: “It’s just the next phase of negotiations.” Varadkar said his focus was on “getting a deal” at the EU summit on October 17-18.
Brussels is currently examining a new set of proposals from London concerning the Irish border, the key sticking point in Brexit negotiations.
Senior EU officials have warned the proposals are not acceptable in their current state and calling on Britain to provide further clarifications on several aspects.
On Friday, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost met with EU officials to further discuss the proposals.
“We have put forward proposals which represent a reasonable compromise. If the EU also wants a deal we need to work together at pace in the coming days,” a British government spokesman said.
London was willing to continue the talks aimed at securing a deal at any point, “including through the weekend,” the spokesman added.