U.K. Government Denies a Brexit Extension Report

January 8, 2019, 1:35 PM UTC

With a potentially disastrous Brexit vote scheduled for January 15, there’s been speculation that the United Kingdom might seek an extension to the March 29, 2019 deadline under Article 50 to leave the European Union. But a government official has said absolutely not.

A Monday report in The Telegraph said U.K. officials put out feelers to the EU, looking for more time. And also on Monday, a government minister said in a BBC television interview that if the vote for the currently negotiated deal fails, “we might have to extend Article 50.

But in a BBC interview, U.K. Brexit minister Stephen Barclay dismissed the possibility and said that he had not spoken to the EU.

A delay would require agreement of all EU member states. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday that his country would not oppose such a move, according to Reuters. However, in a separate story, Reuters reported German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saying that it wasn’t the time to consider an extension.

The worry on the part of many inside and outside the U.K. is that come next week, Parliament might vote down Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. At that point, the only choices would seem to be a no-deal Brexit, which many think would be an economic disaster across Europe, or the U.K.’s cancellation of Article 50 and a decision to remain within the EU.