Britain is not seeking to extend the two-year Brexit process in spite an impasse in parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the EU, a senior minister said on Tuesday.
Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, said that the government was “not looking to extend Article 50″ of the EU treaty, which allows a member state to leave the bloc after up two years of negotiations.
Barclay was asked about the possibility of an extension amid British media speculation that informal discussions are already under way.
Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, said he believed that EU leaders would consider any British request to extend the Article 50 process beyond the scheduled leaving date of March 29.
“Certainly from an Irish perspective if such an ask happens and is justified we won’t be standing in the way of that,” Coveney said in Dublin after meeting German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas.
Several other EU capitals have indicated that they are not opposed in principle to delaying Britain’s departure but are unwilling to restart negotiations.
British Prime Minister, Theresa May has said she wants stronger assurances from the EU that a “backstop” arrangement to guarantee an open Irish border after Brexit cannot become permanent.
Most observers expect May to lose a vote on her Brexit deal in the British parliament on Jan.15.
But the Financial Times said her aides are attempting to persuade EU leaders to give written assurances, possibly via an exchange of letters, before a second vote.