Britain could be forced to stay in the EU for another SIX months and hold a second referendumOctober 9, 2019
FEARS are growing that Britain could be forced to stay in the EU until next June.
Ahead of next week's crunch EU summit leaders are discussing the length of a possible Brexit delay as hopes fade that Boris can seal a Brexit deal.
A range of dates are set to be discussed. In a law passed by rebel MPs last month, Boris could be asked to seek an extension up to January 31 2020, but some think this isn't long enough to hold an election.
Remainers are pushing for a longer extension so they can hold a second referendum.
If the bloc suggest another date it will have to be approved by MPs in the House of Commons.
"Politicians like to keep things off their plates for as long as possible and so pushing it longer seems more realistic,” a senior EU diplomat told The Guardian.
The PM has insisted he will obey the law when quizzed about a third delay to our EU exit.
And last week court documents said he would write a letter to Brussels asking for an extension if he doesn't get one sorted by October 19.
But publicly he has repeatedly stressed Britain is leaving the EU on October 31 no matter what, and he won't ask for a delay.
It's thought that Brussels could want to ensure Britain is out of the EU by the time they agree their next budget next summer.
“We could extend to September without any problem, but what would you achieve over the summer? So June seems more likely,” an EU diplomat said.
"Beyond the UK being able to veto a budget, an end date by then is important because we don’t want the UK to be in and net recipients to be able to argue that there is no reason for a cut to the budget."
Last week an EU ambassadors meeting heard that Britain's representative Tim Barrow could send the letter asking for an extension – as long as he's acting on behalf of the PM.
An extension could be signed up until midnight on October 31, but will need all the EU 27 leaders and the UK government to agree.
Meanwhile it was reported today that Parliament will sit on Saturday 19 October – the first time MPs will be in Parliament then for decades.
Hillary Benn, who created the Brexit delay Bill – dubbed by Boris as the "Surrender Act" said last night: "I think the EU in these circumstances will grant an extension, because they don’t want a no deal Brexit either."
The discussions come after a huge row broke out yesterday following a call between Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson.
Following a phone call, a No10 source briefed out that a deal was now "impossible" and "she made clear a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely".
The source said she had made clear that the UK cannot leave without leaving Northern Ireland behind in a Customs Union with the EU.
And another briefing from a No10 insider said that Britain would treat EU countries who help to delay Brexit as "hostile" – and threatened to take away vital defence and security support.
The Prime Minister will meet with Irish leader Leo Varadkar as soon as tomorrow in a bid to solve issues around a customs border with Northern Ireland.
But the Irish PM played down hopes of a breakthrough, saying it would be "very difficult" to secure a deal in time, and "big gaps" remained between the two sides.
The pair had a long 45-minute phonecall last night, where Boris promised he would strive until the "last moment" to reach a deal with the UK but "not at any cost" to his country.
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