LONDON (Reuters) – The UK legislature faces the decision between Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit, or a long extension of the March 29 deadline for withdrawal from the bloc, British Brexit negotiator told a Brussels bar.
FILE PHOTO – Prime Minister Theresa May's Senior Official and European Affairs Adviser Olly Robbins arrives at the London Cabinet on 28 January 2019 in London. REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
If May Can not Get Brexit Deal Confirmed by the British Parliament, it must decide whether to halt Brexit or bring the world's fifth largest economy into chaos by leaving without a deal.
May has repeatedly stated that Britain will leave punctually, with or without an agreement, as it attempts to persuade the EU to re-open the divorce agreement it concluded in November.
However, Brexit's chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, was overheard by an ITV correspondent at a hotel bar in Brussels, saying that legislators would have to decide whether to accept a revised Brexit deal or a potentially significant delay ,
"I must make them believe that the week starts in early March … Extension is possible, but if they do not vote for the deal, then the extension is long," cited ITV Robbins in the hotel bar on Monday during a private call.
Robbins made it clear that he feared a long extension of Article 50 – the withdrawal from the EU – could focus on lawmakers, ITV said.
The spectacle that one of May's highest officials kept her bargaining position in Brussels Hotel Bar undermines the extent of the UK's Brexit crisis, which has shocked both investors and allies.
It is not clear why Robbins, an experienced civil servant, would make such comments in a hotel bar. His remarks will deepen the concern of Brexit-supporting lawmakers that May may eventually delay withdrawal from the bloc.
Amidst the labyrinthine conspiracies and counter-upsets of Brexit, Britain's most significant political and economic step since World War II, some major investors, such as Ford Motor Co., are trying to figure out whether British production will be shut down.
The British pound, up $ 1.50 on the day of the Brexit referendum in 2016, was trading at $ 1.2890 on Wednesday.
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Robbins' comments seem to undermine May's central threat of a no-deal Brexit – a scenario that, according to advocates of EU membership, would threaten UK unity, attract investors and cause chaos in large ports ,
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said he did not want to talk to people heard in a noisy second-hand bar, but the government's position was that the United Kingdom would be leaving on March 29, but with wanted to do a deal.
"If the prime minister decides that we leave or act on March 29th, that will happen," said Brexit supportive party leader of the conservative party, Steve Baker. "Officials advise. Minister decide. "
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believes the EU would make a deal, despite Dublin continuing its preparations for all results, including a no-deal.
The British Parliament will debate Brexit on Thursday, followed by votes on legislative proposals. The opposition Labor Party will support a proposal to force the government to make decisions on its Brexit plans by mid-March.
Calling managers on Tuesday made May feel like she's determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit if she can.
"She is determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit if she can because she realizes in conversation with business that this could be very damaging to the UK economy and Ergo jobs," said Tony Smurfit. Chief Executive of the Irish Packaging Group Smurfit Kappa, told Reuters.
The UK economy will hardly grow in the run-up to Brexit, but if there is a deal, economists surveyed by Reuters will see a modest recovery after the divorce.
Ford Motor Co said in May that it is intensifying preparations for the relocation of production from the UK, the Times reported on Tuesday.
Letter from Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Janet Lawrence