Small extension to Brexit timetable could be acceptable…

A ‘short extension’ to Article 50 is acceptable, says Jacob Rees-Mogg providing Theresa May delivers on a renegotiated Brexit deal with the EU

  • The ERG chairman suggested delaying March 29 departure is ‘not impossible’
  • But he wants Mrs May to use his ‘Malthouse compromise’ as basis for new deal 
  • It comes after MP votes this week indicated a revised deal might pass Commons 

Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he could accept a short delay to Britain’s planned departure from the European Union on March 29 on the condition Theresa May pursues his plan rather than hers for a Brexit deal.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who chairs the influential pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) within the Tory Party, said a short extension to the timetable could be accepted if the government struck a deal with Europe along the lines of the so-called Malthouse Compromise.

It comes after MPs effectively demanded that Mrs May renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement after her original plan was rejected by lawmakers. 

ERGChairman and leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said a delay was ‘not impossible’

More time for a new deal? Mrs May's own plan was thrashed by 230 votes last month

More time for a new deal? Mrs May’s own plan was thrashed by 230 votes last month

A series of amendments, almost all of which failed to pass, put to Parliament on Tuesday seemed to indicate an amended Agreement with changes to the Northern Irish backstop might pass the Commons.

But senior EU politicians including European Council President Donald Tusk have said no part of the agreement – including the backstop – is open for renegotiation.

Mrs May’s own deal was routed by 230 votes on January 15, the biggest defeat for a government in modern British history. 

Mr Rees-Mogg has put forward a new plan called the Malthouse Compromise after one of its proponents, lawmaker Kit Malthouse.

It courts Brexiteers with a promise to ditch the unpopular Irish border policy in favour of an alternative; and appeals to pro-EU Conservatives by pledging safeguards against the risk of disruption if no exit deal can be agreed with Brussels.

Rees-Mogg wrote in today’s Telegraph that both Brussels and Westminster could move at speed when they need to.

‘Currently, there are only 55 days left to Brexit,’ he wrote. ‘This makes the timetable tight for agreeing and legislating for a deal.

‘If the agreement were made but a little parliamentary time were needed … a short extension is not impossible.’

Other senior lawmakers in May’s Cabinet including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt have in recent days suggested a small delay may be needed as Britain races to be ready to leave the EU on March 29, although Number 10 has repeatedly set itself against such a delay.