What are the consequences of postponing Brexit?

British MPs will vote once again on the Brexit deal with Brussels on 12 March. If the deal is rejected the parliament is to vote two days later on postponing the country's exit from the EU in order to avoid a disorderly Brexit. Commentators discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a postponement.

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The Sunday Times (GB) /

Postponement will weaken Britain's position

Postponing the EU exit by several months would only work in Brussels' favour in the decisive phase of the negotiations, warns The Sunday Times:

“The rest of the EU, meanwhile, which has viewed the prime minister's negotiating tactics with a mixture of bewilderment and incomprehension, is tired of Westminster's games. The EU need not be too worried. An extension of the article 50 process, without a clear aim in mind, entirely tilts the balance in favour of Brussels. Britain will be in the position of supplicant, needing more time because the prime minister could not get the backing from her own party for her own deal. A weakened prime minister is thus rendered even weaker, in Europe's eyes, by any extension.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Much more time is needed

Both sides need considerably more time to work out the Brexit, historian Timothy Garton Ash demands in La Repubblica:

“The European choice on Brexit specifically will hinge on extension of article 50. A short extension, which is now inevitable, will only help May to pile the 'my deal or no deal' blackmail pressure on wavering MPs - and, with a little help from Brussels, she may finally succeed. Only a longer extension, for nine months or one year, - which means tackling the difficult issue of British representation in the new European parliament from the outset - would allow for a proper national debate, culminating in a second referendum, and bring new possibilities of Britain staying in the EU. This is short-term pain for long-term gain.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

British acting like gangsters

The Times of Malta is outraged at how the British government is trying to force its Brexit goals on the EU:

“We have had on one side the British negotiators negotiating without a detailed mandate from their parliament, changing negotiators four times, with the party leading these negotiations representing 29 per cent of the electorate. … Europeans are astonished that this is the way things are done in the country which claims to be the oldest democracy. Sorry, it is farcical and does not deserve to be taken seriously. What the UK has been trying to play is an old negotiating trick applied by gangsters who use threats and run down the clock when they are incapable of achieving their objectives by negotiation.”

The Sun (GB) /

London elite ignoring the people's will

The Sun is appalled that the House of Commons have paved the way for a postponement of Brexit:

“Almost three years ago the voters gave MPs a clear instruction: Get us out of the EU. Unbelievably, the MPs are refusing to obey. Whatever tricksy waffle they spout, be in no doubt about this. The parliamentary class is telling voters to get stuffed. … In clear daylight the express will of the people is being violated. … Theirs is the behaviour of a tyrannous clique whose 'delay' to our departure helps only their fellow technocrats in the European Commission. And that's what it's all about. They feel a greater kinship with their fellow elitists on the Continent than they do with working-class British voters.”

Denik (CZ) /

Divorce without delay is best option

Denik is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of Brexit being postponed:

“The main problem with the entire Brexit is that there is no sensible reason for the British to leave the EU. But postponing the exit, as is now being discussed, is a bad move. It is at best better than the prospect of a disorderly Brexit. It's questionable whether a new referendum would solve anything. Britain would then perhaps remain in the EU but the whole thing would leave a nasty aftertaste. From today's perspective the divorce would be the best option - and as planned, on 29 March.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

PM upping the pressure on MPs

May is still doing everything within her power to get her Brexit deal through parliament, Sydsvenskan believes:

“Trying to delay the vote [until 12 March] now is clearly a way of upping the pressure on the House of Commons. With just two weeks to go before B-day, MPs can hardly expect the current agreement to be renegotiated. Theoretically that could increase May's chances of getting votes on her side.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

British buying time to find their way

May's plan seems to be the only viable alternative right now, The Irish Independent notes with resignation:

“It seems the best we can hope for now is to spend months or even years more talking about Brexit. Apparently that's the 'rational' solution at this stage - just a month from the UK's scheduled exit from the European Union after 46 years. But there's nothing rational about Brexiteers who are determined to get out at whatever cost. … At the very least an extension might allow the UK to figure out what Brexit means. However, it also runs the risk of something business can't afford: allowing uncertainty to reign supreme for months.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Postponed is not cancelled

Neither side would benefit from delaying the Brexit, The Daily Telegraph is convinced:

“As Mrs May has said over and over (and over) again, a delay does not deliver a deal, just more delay. The cliff-edge will still be there in three months' time. … Furthermore, why would EU leaders agree to prolong this torture for a few weeks if it leads nowhere in particular? What possible motivation would they have to permit a three-month extension when agreements already reached with the UK Government over the course of more than two years had twice been rejected?”

Der Standard (AT) /

Postponement would be a disaster for the EU

May's announcement that she might be willing to postpone the Brexit is a dangerous manoeuvre, Der Standard warns:

“Britain would then take part in the EU elections in May as a full member and elect new MEPs. The Brits would then have a say in determining the programme and composition of the new EU Commission (after Juncker), as well as on the budget up to and including 2027 for the Union they want to leave - including veto rights. That would be nothing short of a disaster for the EU. It would be hugely susceptible to blackmail, and May could play cat and mouse with Brussels.”