Riigikogu foreign affairs head proposes extension to UK EU withdrawal date

Marko Mihkelson.
Marko Mihkelson. Source: Reform Party.

Chair of the Riigikogu's foreign affairs committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform) has suggested making use of the terms of the European Union's treaty to give breathing space to the United Kingdom following the rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

"As for Brexit or its possible cancellation, Estonia's first starting point today could be allowing the United Kingdom extra time ‒ if they so wish ‒ in the framework of Section 3 of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty," Mr Mihkelson wrote on social media.

The updated version of the Treaty on European Union (2007) came into force in 2009, resulting from the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, which in its turn amended the two principal EU constitutional treaties, the Treaty of Rome 1957 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.

At present, the deadline for UK withdrawal is 29 March 2019, just 71 days from the time of writing.

Buying time

"In other words, this [triggering Section 3 of Article 50] would mean postponing the Brits' withdrawal until midsummer,'' Mr Mihkelson said.

''This would enable them to definitively decide whether to agree with the deal ‒ which is impossible to hope for after yesterday's vote ‒ or to give the decision-making to the people. According to recent opinion polls, 44% of respondents would support the UK staying in the EU and 35% would want the country's withdrawal," Mr Mihkelson stated.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote of no confidence following the resounding defeat of her proposed deal, which had originally been due for the vote in the House of Commons in December, by 230 votes. Should she survive the vote of no confidence, options open to her government include trying to re-negotiate a deal, which would be likely to necessitate an extension in any case, and the less likely options of a general election, a second referendum on EU membership, or a no-deal withdrawal.

Mrs May herself has rejected the idea of extending the withdrawal deadline.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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