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Sun: Britain may not leave the EU in 2019 after all as Theresa May bids to avoid ‘cliff edge’ for businesses, No 10 reveals

Date: 22 11 2016


The PM also warned firms to clean up their act and ‘restore faith in capitalism’ by embracing Brexit

THERESA May has revealed she will push the EU for a temporary halfway house Brexit to stop a “cliff edge” for businesses.

The PM suggested she will ask Brussels for a transitional deal to stop a sudden collapse in trade with the other 27 members.

Senior figures – including former Foreign Secretary William Hague – have warned that Brexit talks’ tight two year timeline is not long enough to finalise a complicated EU divorce as well as a new trade deal.

Mrs May’s suggestion came as nervous business bosses called on her for reassurance on what will happen and when.

Replying to CBI president Paul Drechsler’s plea for “clarity and a plan”, the PM said: “I understand the point Paul has made. People don’t want a cliff edge, they want to know with some certainty how things are going to go forward.

“That will be part of the work that we do in terms of the negotiation that we are undertaking with the European Union.”

No10 initially raised the prospect of Mrs May even trying to extend the timeline for the ‘Article 50’ exit talks, delaying Brexit.

But after initial confusion, Downing Street last night confirmed we will still leave the EU on Mrs May’s timeline, “by the end of March 2019 as the latest point”.

The prospect of a transitional deal left Leave campaigners split, with some Tory MPs backing the PM and others claiming it was a betrayal.

Leading Tory MP Brexiteer Steve Baker said: “We’re doing something profoundly historic.

“The priority is to get this thing right, and if they need more time than they should get it.”

Former Justice minister Dominic Raab added: “The Prime Minister is right to retain some flexibility on this.

“What matters is getting the best deal for Britain, not the technical process.”

But Co-Chair of the UKIP-backed Leave Means Leave group Richard Tice said: “No EU deal is better than a bad deal.

“A transitional deal will fuel more uncertainty and leave Britain in limbo.”

Mrs May also delighted business bosses by saying she would spell out the detail of her Brexit plans whenever she could, once that no longer prejudiced the negotiations.

The EU Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier snubbed Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday by publicly refusing to discuss Britain’s EU exit.

After the Cabinet minister’s first meeting with him, the fomer French foreign minister tweeted: “No negotiation without notification. My work is now focused on EU27”.

November 21st, Sun