European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he could not rule out an extension to Britain’s EU membership beyond the European Parliament elections in May.
“That to my mind would be an irony of history. Yet I cannot rule it out,” Juncker told Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview. “Any decision to ask for more time lies with the UK. If such a request were to be made, no one in Europe would oppose it,” he said.
With the Brexit deal agreed between London and Brussels comprehensively rejected by MPs in the U.K. parliament last month and political deadlock in Westminster, speculation has increased that the U.K. government will be forced to seek an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period. Without it, there is widespread fear that the U.K. will be forced into a no-deal Brexit.
A delay beyond the EU election would very likely mean the U.K. participating in the poll and electing MEPs.
Juncker also said he had no fix deadline in mind for how long the exit date could be postponed: “If you are asking for how long the withdrawal can be postponed, I have no timeframe in mind. With Brexit so many timetables have already gone by the wayside.”
“It is like being before the courts or on the high seas; we are in God’s hands. And we can never quite be sure when God will take the matter in hand,” he added.