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Mon, 13 July 2020

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Gordon Brown: EU is ready to offer UK an extension to Brexit deadline

Gordon Brown: EU is ready to offer UK an extension to Brexit deadline
2 min read

Brussels is ready to offer the UK an extension to the Brexit deadline, Gordon Brown has claimed.

The former Prime Minister said he had been told by European leaders that they were prepared to scrap the 31 October cut-off.

Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK will leave the EU on that date "do or die".

Brexit was initially supposed to take place on 29 March, but Theresa May was forced to seek an extension after Parliament repeatedly rejected the Withdrawal Agreement she struck with the bloc.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Brown said the 31 October was suggested by French president Emmanuel Macron, but that it could be ditched as early as next week.

The ex-Labour leader, who opposes Brexit, said: "My information is that Macron no longer holds to that deadline. It was really introduced for his campaign in the European elections to make him sound tough. And none of the other European Commissioners, including the new President of the European Commission [Ursula von der Leyen], I believe will hold to that 31 October deadline.

"So really the Government has two arguments that they want to get across - that it’s a sovereign people against a non-sovereign Parliament, and it’s Britain against Europe.

"Pull the rug from under that argument by saying it’s not Europe that’s being inflexible, it’s up to Britain now, the 31 October deadline can be removed.

"I think if that happened next week it would help us win a vote in the House of Commons and help put the pressure back on the Government."

Mr Brown's comments come ahead of a tumultuous week in Parliament, when opposition MPs and rebel Tories will join forces in a bid to block no-deal.

They are expected to stage an emergency debate with the aim of paving the way for legislation which would force the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the 31 October deadline.

But speaking on Friday, the Prime Minister said their actions were making it less likely that he will be able to strike a new Brexit deal.

He told Sky News: "I’m afraid that the more our friends and partners think at the back  of their minds that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by Parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need, and so that’s why I really hope that MPs will allow the UK to do a deal and to get ready for a no-deal Brexit and that’s the best way forward for our country, believe me."

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