Huntingdon MP asks prime minister whether government could extend article 50 to help negotiations get ‘over the line’

Jonathan Djanogly

Jonathan Djanogly - Credit: Archant

The MP for Huntingdon quizzed Theresa May about the state of Brexit negotiations as the prime minster updated the House of Commons on Monday.

Jonathan Djanogly asked Mrs May whether the government had considered applying to extend article 50 in order to help break the current impasse between the UK and the EU.

Mrs May took questions from members after delivering her monthly update to parliament on matters relating to the European Council.

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty permits any member of the European Union to withdraw from membership of the union, with the withdrawal confirmed two years after the European Council is notified of the member’s intention to leave.

However, under the terms of article 50, that period can be extended if the member state and the European Council agree to an extension.

Addressing the prime minister, Mr Djanogly asked: “Given how tantalisingly close we are to a deal, if time were to run out, has the prime minister considered, rather than having a general election or a second referendum, the use of applying to extend article 50, even if it is for a limited period, so that she can kick the ball over the line?”

The prime minister insisted the government was focussed on completing exit negotiations with the EU, however, and had not considered the possibility of extending article 50.

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She said: “We have said right from the beginning that we would not be looking to extend article 50. This refers back to an earlier question from one of our right honourable friends about people actually wanting to see that we are leaving the European Union. I think we owe it to people to deliver on this. What we want now is to have the decisions that finalise the negotiations to ensure that we get that good deal.”

Discussions between the UK and the EU have been centred for a period of several months on the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the neighbouring Republic of Ireland, with the UK adamant that no physical infrastructure be introduced between the two countries.

The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday, March 29, 2019. If no agreement can be reached over the Irish border and other outstanding matters, the UK faces leaving the union without a deal.