LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s departure from the European Union (all times local):
The European Parliament’s top Brexit official says he does not want a long extension of Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union and certainly not one that goes beyond the May elections for the legislators.
Guy Verhofstadt told a parliamentary commission it “would not be a problem” to back an extension of up to two months, but only if there was enough in the works to be assured that the whole process would be completed within the short timeframe after March 29.
Verhofstadt said that a long extension, possibly of well over a year, would not solve much and would put the EU’s future on hold for even longer.
“In coming two years we have other things to tackle than continue with the uncertainty of the Brexit process,” Verhofstadt said.
Even if British Prime Minister Theresa May wins support from U.K. lawmakers for her Brexit deal with the EU, there’s a growing expectation that the scheduled Brexit date will have to be extended so the legislation can be passed. And if she loses, then lawmakers are then subsequently expected to back calls for an extension.
Britain’s chief law officer says Brexit negotiations with the European Union will continue through the weekend, as the U.K. scrambles to secure changes to the EU divorce deal before a vote in Parliament next week.
The EU says “difficult” talks have failed to produce a breakthrough because British proposals are unrealistic.
But U.K. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said Thursday that “focused, detailed and careful discussions” will resume “shortly.”
Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, but its Parliament has rejected the government’s divorce deal with the EU.
Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking changes, but the EU insists it will not reopen the legally binding withdrawal agreement.
Parliament is due to vote again on the deal Tuesday. If it is rejected, lawmakers may seek to delay Brexit.