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Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom says EU could delay Brexit by a couple of weeks with 'goodwill'

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Brussels could grant the UK a “couple of extra weeks” to prepare the country before Brexit without extending the official timetable, Andrea Leadsom has said.

The Cabinet minister argued the UK had a “very strong relationship” with the bloc and it would be “feasible” to win a grace period to ensure the relevant legislation has time to pass.

A swathe of new laws are still required to prepare the UK for its departure from the bloc on 29 March, but parliament remains deadlocked about the terms of the withdrawal.

Theresa May has insisted the Government will not seek an extension to the Article 50 period, and is trying to fight off MPs who want to take control of the Commons to force one.

But Commons Leader Ms Leadsom said Brussels could show “goodwill” to allow the UK time to pass the relevant laws.

“We can get the legislation through and I think we do, in spite of everything, have a very strong relationship with our EU friends and neighbours,” she told BBC Newsnight.

“I am absolutely certain that if we needed a couple of extra weeks or something then that would be feasible.”

Asked if that could amount to an extension of Article 50, she added: “It doesn't necessarily mean that. Think carefully about it. With goodwill can still get legislation through in good time.”

She also issued a thinly-veiled swipe at her Cabinet colleagues Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond, who have been warning against the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

“I'm totally aligned to the Prime Minister. I believe that is where collective responsibility should lie,” she argued.

“So number one, the legal default is we leave the EU on 29 March without a deal, unless there is a deal is in place. That hasn't changed. That is the prime minister's view and that's my view.”

She added: “I do encourage my colleagues in Cabinet to get behind that sentiment and to make sure that we are all on the same page. We are now in the really final days.”

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