The European Union is preparing to offer the next British Prime Minister a Brexit extension beyond Oct. 31 to provide yet another attempt to reach an agreement, The Guardian reported, citing unidentified EU officials.
The extra period of membership, while allowing for an agreement to be reached, could be billed to members of the Conservative Party as an opportunity to prepare for leaving without a deal, helping to hold together the party which is split over on what terms to leave the bloc.
Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming European Commission president, has indicated she’s open to a further delay. “I stand ready for further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason,” she told the European Parliament July 16.
The British Parliament has voted against a no-deal Brexit, limiting the scope of maneuver for its next prime minister, likely to be be Boris Johnson. Johnson has generally been in favor of leaving without an accord, though he’s been vague about how such an abrupt departure would be handled.
Johnson is ahead in polls of grassroots Conservatives who will choose the next leader. The party’s members are overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit and regard Johnson as more likely to deliver on the referendum result of three years ago than his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The winner of the leadership contest will be announced on July 23.
U.S. President Donald Trump Friday said Johnson will do a “great job” on Brexit, and would clean up the “disaster” left by his predecessor, Theresa May.