EXCL Brussels prepared to postpone start of Brexit talks if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister
Brussels is prepared to postpone the start of the Brexit negotiations if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister and needs more time to prepare for the historic event, PoliticsHome can reveal.
Michel Barnier, the European Union's chief negotiator in the crunch talks, said last week that he hoped they would begin on 19 June.
His comments were pounced upon by Theresa May as further evidence that she and her experienced ministerial team should be re-elected.
Speaking yesterday, she said: "Britain is about to enter into the most important negotiations of my lifetime. They begin just 11 days after polling day… That’s why, now more than ever, Britain needs a strong government and a strong Prime Minister capable of standing up to Brussels."
But in a blow to the Prime Minister's argument, a European Commission source has admitted they would be prepared to allow a further postponement to the talks if the new government requests one.
Asked whether there would be scope to delay the start of talks, the source said: "They have got to agree the date, so yes.
"If the UK was to turn around and say, ‘we need a bit of leeway’ - we don’t have a lot of leeway in the big scheme of things.
"There are only a number of months - less than two years - to do this, so there isn’t a terrible lot of scope. But the Commission will agree with the UK the dates for the first negotiating sessions."
The Department for Exiting the EU refused to comment when contacted today by PoliticsHome.
In his address last week, Mr Barnier said: “I hope to see our British colleagues at the negotiation table as soon as possible.
"And look forward to work in a positive atmosphere to find common ground.”
And he added: “I hope to organise the first round of negotiations as soon as possible, hopefully in the week of 19 June.”