‘UK will be ready for Brexit in March’
BRITAIN will have implemented the necessary legislation for Brexit before the country leaves the European Union in March, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said yesterday after a newspaper quoted a minister as saying the exit could be delayed.
“We are obviously making progress with the legislation required in either scenario and we will ensure either way we will have passed the necessary legislation. We will make sure the time is made available,” she told reporters.
She added that the prime minister had ruled out extending Article 50, which the government triggered in 2017 to launch two years of divorce talks with the European Union.
However, according to unnamed senior ministers cited by London’s Evening Standard, Britain’s exit from the EU looks increasingly likely to be delayed beyond the scheduled date of March 29 because of the backlog of legislation that needs to be passed.
“The legislative timetable is now very tight indeed,” a senior minister told the newspaper yesterday. “Certainly, if there was defeat on Tuesday and it took some time before it got resolved, it’s hard to see how we can get all the legislation through by March 29.”
Meanwhile two of the biggest donors to the Brexit campaign said they now believed the project they had championed would eventually be abandoned by the government and the United Kingdom would stay in the European Union.
Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who was the second biggest donor to the 2016 Leave Campaign, and veteran hedge fund manager Crispin Odey said they expected Britain to stay in the EU despite their campaign victory in the 2016 referendum.
Mr Hargreaves, who amassed his fortune from co-founding fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown, said the political establishment were determined to scuttle Brexit and this would lead to a generation of distrust of Britain’s political classes.
The government, he said, was likely to first ask for an extension to the formal exit process from the EU and then call for a second referendum.
“I have totally given up. I am totally in despair, I don’t think Brexit will happen at all,” said Mr Hargreaves, 72, who is one of Britain’s wealthiest men and donated £3.2 million to the leave campaign.
“They [pro-Europeans] are banking on the fact that people are so fed up with it that they will just say ‘sod it we will stay’. I do see that attitude. The problem is when something doesn’t happen for so long you feel less angry about it.”
Mr Odey, who runs hedge fund Odey Asset Management and donated more than £870,000 to pro-leave groups, said while he did not believe a second referendum would take place, he did not think Brexit would happen either.
“My view is that it ain’t going to happen,” Mr Odey said. “The unfortunate thing is that almost nobody is leading the Brexit charge, so it’s leaderless, which is the problem.”