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02nd Apr 2019

UK must hold People’s Vote or general election to delay Brexit again, EU says

The EU's chief negotiator has said the UK must hold a General Election, a second referendum or another kind of 'political process' to delay Brexit

Reuben Pinder

Neither will be particularly appealing to the Tory party right now

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has claimed the UK must hold a General Election, a second referendum, or another type of “political process” if it wants to delay Brexit again.

While speaking to a think tank on Tuesday morning, Barnier said: “The UK may ask for another extension. Such an extension would carry significant risks for the EU. Therefore a strong justification would be needed.”

Barnier added: “If the UK Parliament does not vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement in the coming days only two options would remain.”

“Leaving without an agreement or requesting a longer extension of the Article 50 period.”

Barnier said a no-deal Brexit was becoming “day after day more likely” after parliament once again voted against every motion put forward in a series of indicative votes on Monday, including the Norway plus proposal which prompted Nick Boles to resign the Tory whip.

As things stand, the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal in place on April 12 if Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is not passed through the Commons, or a delay is agreed with the EU.

If the UK were to leave with no deal, Barnier said “a few months after I’m sure UK will ask EU to begin negotiations” on trade, but that “in that case, the withdrawal agreement we put on the table at the beginning of this negotiation will be still here”.

Issues regarding the Irish border, citizen’s rights and the divorce bill would have to be resolved in those negotiations.

Neither a General Election or a second referendum would be particularly appealing for the Tories right now, after the last election saw them lose their majority and a second referendum would be political suicide after Theresa May has repeatedly pledged to honour the result of the referendum.