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Diplomats say EU Divides Report on Brexit

LONDON – EU governments do not agree on the time they think the UK should delay Brexit, with some advocating an extension of up to a year, diplomats, who did not want to be named, said.
While some countries believe that the EU should offer Britain a generous period to negotiate an agreement likely to win the support of Parliament, possibly after a second referendum, others oppose any postponement and wish that the UK is forced to agree as soon as possible, according to four EU diplomats.
It is up to the UK to ask for a delay and so far, Premier Theresa May has said she does not intend to do so. But with the agreement the government has negotiated with the EU, it suffered the biggest defeat in the House of Commons in its history last week and suggests a majority in favor of any other solution.
Many officials on both sides believe that the UK would remain beyond its target on March 29, the release date is the only plausible way forward.
“We are also responsible for shaping this separation process responsibly.”
If May, who is to present her next proposals to Parliament on Monday, will make a request for an extension, the approval will have to be unanimous of the 27 remaining EU countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who takes a more flexible approach to the timing of any extension – said Saturday that she wanted to help Britain get an orderly exit, adding that, it was up to the EU to help find a solution.
“We also have a responsibility to shape this process of separation responsibly, so that people do not look back in 50 years, shaking their heads, and wondering why we were not able to compromise,” she said.
The elections to the European Parliament in May are the main obstacle to any extension. Several countries believe that the United Kingdom should be able to delay Brexit until the beginning of July, when the newly elected Assembly is sitting for the first time.
Other countries believe that the United Kingdom should have a much longer, or even a year, time to develop a much more detailed plan, which would mean that Britain may have to participate in the future EU wide vote.
France and the European Commission, the EU executive, are among those who advocate for a long extension, diplomats said, who requested anonymity because the discussions are private. Germany takes a flexible approach, even if it is not in the camp to claim the longest extension.
But several governments believe that the close deadline is approaching and that we must rely on the United Kingdom and that we should not offer it a “technical” deadline in the space of a few weeks to allow the British Parliament to adopt the necessary legislation to push Britain to accept the existing agreement.
Diplomats said the EU is still largely united on Brexit and that the disagreement was probably not serious enough to block any UK postponement requests but this highlights the tension surrounding the UK’s strategy.
Some officials in European capitals believe that it is still possible for Britain to change its mind and stay in the bloc after all. The longer it can extend the negotiation period, the more likely it will be.
Others believe that a line must be drawn in the messy negotiations so that European governments can focus on other issues, such as the fight against populism and the strengthening of the euro area.
Backbenchers, led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, are working on a plan to remove the government from Brexit control, giving chamber the opportunity to ask the EU to postpone the departure.
EU officials said the bloc would wait for the UK to clarify its position before making its next decision.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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