Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Throughout the Article 50 process, I, as well as officials from my Department, have had frequent and ongoing contact with representatives from other EU27 Member States and the Commission. In recent weeks, I met with my Dutch, Maltese and Swedish counterparts, and will hold further meetings with other EU colleagues throughout the summer.
The European Council on 10 April agreed to extend the Article 50 process to 31 October, providing the UK with more time to ensure an orderly withdrawal. It also provided flexibility for the UK to leave before that date if Westminster ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement.
We remain firmly of the view that the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal and fully protect the Good Friday Agreement is to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. It is vital that the UK, regardless of whoever the next Prime Minister is, uses the time up to 31 October to find an effective way forward. Responsibility for avoiding a no deal Brexit lies firmly with the UK.
Any decision to request a further extension of the date for the UK's departure from the EU would be for the UK alone. For it to be granted would require the unanimous agreement of the European Council (Article 50). Ireland would be open to such a request but the reasons for a possible extension and its duration would be important. The EU would also need to consider how its own institutions and processes would be affected by any extension. Some Member States have expressed considerable doubts.
There has been no collective discussion of any possible extension.