Brexit delay most likely option: Former UK Chancellor

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Brexit delay most likely option: Former UK Chancellor

London: Former UK Chancellor George Osborne has said delaying Britain’s exit from the EU is now the “most likely” option and that prospect of no deal means “the gun is held to the British economy’s head”.

The UK has to choose between no deal, which he compared to Russian roulette, or no Brexit for now, Osborne was cited as saying by the BBC on Wednesday.

“Russian roulette is a game which you should never play because there’s a one-in-six chance that the bullet goes into your head,” he said at Davos.

MPs were proposing alternative plans to Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU, including seeking an extension to the UK’s exit date — it is due to leave on March 29.

But May said the “right way” to rule out no-deal Brexit was to approve her withdrawal agreement. According to her, it was “impossible” to rule out leaving without a deal any other way because, under current law, the UK will exit the EU on the decided date, whether or not a deal had been struck.

Osborne, who campaigned for Remain, said his successor Philip Hammond had “sensibly” told businesses that leaving without a deal was not a possibility.

“But we now need to hear it from the British Prime Minister,” he said.

Opposition Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC that it was “highly likely” the party will back an amendment put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, with support from MPs in other parties.

It will give time for a bill to suspend the Article 50 process for leaving the EU if a new deal had not been agreed with Brussels by the end of February, the report said.

It is one of several alternative plans by MPs that will be put forward when May returns to the Commons on January 29 to set out her own proposed next steps.

Another proposal seeks to win over some opponents of May’s deal by insisting on “an expiry date to the backstop” — the “insurance policy” intended to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The backstop has been opposed by some Conservative MPs and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party because it could mean keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU indefinitely and having different rules for different parts of the UK.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was expected to meeting May for talks on Wednesday, said she supported seeking an extension to the Brexit deadline.

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