The government was on damage control duty Wednesday after a senior civil servant was overheard speaking loudly in a Brussels bar saying Brexit could be delayed, the latest in a series of government figures to do so.
The Prime Minister told Parliament Wednesday that members should not take “what someone said to someone else as overheard by someone else, in a bar” as gospel after her chief advisor on Europe Oliver ‘Olly’ Robbins was heard by a British journalist talking about the future of Brexit in a hotel bar in Brussels.
Theresa May continued to say: “It is very clear the government’s position is the same. We triggered Article 50 (the process by which the UK leaves the EU)… that had a two-year time limit, that ends on the 29 March… We want to leave with a deal, and that’s what we are working for”, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Pub Bore Bureaucrat Olly Robbins: Accept May’s Deal or We’ll Delay Brexit https://t.co/jvOqsN6uwj
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 13, 2019
Downing Street moved separately to diffuse concern that the government was working to take a so-called no-deal Brexit off the table, with a government spokesman saying Wednesday: ” parliament wants the UK to leave with a deal, but in order to do so it requires us to secure legally binding changes in relation to the backstop… No deal is an eventuality we wish to avoid, but one we continue to plan for. Does no-deal remain on the table? The answer is yes.”
While the Prime Minister once frequently told the public that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, the promise has since apparently fallen from grace and several senior members of the government have made clear that far from no deal being an option, it is an outcome to avoid at all costs.
As well as senior Civil Servant Olly Robbins’ comments in public that Members of Parliament would have a simple binary choice between accepting Theresa May’s “worst deal in history” Brexit, or delaying Britain leaving the European Union altogether, other senior May allies have made similar comments.
Farage: EU ‘Scared’ of WTO Clean Brexit https://t.co/wFXRMkea4E
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 7, 2019
Breitbart London reported in January when Home Secretary Savid Javid became the third minister to have said Brexit day could be delayed to give the Prime Minister more time to negotiate with the European Union.
The claims stand in direct opposition to May’s own remarks, where she has repeatedly promised: “Brexit on time.”
Delaying the withdrawal of the UK from the EU could be very politically damaging from the government, not least because it could trigger an otherwise unexpected European Parliament election in the country in May. The vote, which could be seen as a poll on the government’s handling on Brexit so soon after cancelling Brexit day on March 29th could see the Conservative party punished at the ballot box.