Germany’s Merkel vows to fight to the very end for an orderly Brexit


BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’ll fight to the very end for an orderly Brexit as Theresa May’s strategy hit a major roadblock.

Merkel said at the Global Solutions summit in Berlin yesterday that she’s committed to ensuring Germany has a solid relationship with Britain after Brexit and is seeking close cooperation on security and tackling terrorism.

The UK prime minister’s (PM) push for a third vote on her plan for withdrawal from the European Union (EU) ran into trouble in Parliament again on Monday.

“I will fight until the final hour of the March 29 deadline for an orderly Brexit,” Merkel said in an onstage discussion with John Micklethwait, editor- in-chief of Bloomberg News.

With 10 days to go before the UK is scheduled to leave the 28-member bloc, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow used an arcane parliamentary precedent to rule the PM can’t bring her long-negotiated withdrawal agreement back to Parliament in London after two comprehensive defeats.

“I admit that I wasn’t on top of the British Parliament’s 17th-century procedural rules,” Merkel added. “Now, we’ll have to see what May tells us, what her demands are, and we will try to react to that.”

The EU’s 27 remaining leaders are unlikely to finalise a Brexit extension when they gather for a summit in Brussels tomorrow, according to four EU officials with knowledge of the discussions. Instead, they might offer the UK leader a proposal that leaves room for one last shot at getting her deal through Parliament before Britain is due to leave the EU.

Leaders are likely to make clear in their summit conclusions how long the delay should be if May’s deal is defeated. If the agreement is ratified, a shorter delay would be used. That could persuade the pro-Brexit lawmakers who’ve so far rejected May’s plan to finally support her, rather than see the divorce pushed back further.

The official EU decision on delaying Brexit could then be taken in the days before the UK’s scheduled departure.

That could probably happen without needing another summit, although a gathering next week hasn’t been totally ruled out, officials said.

Several countries are still reluctant to allow any extension, however, and diplomats warn that the discussion tomorrow could be long and heated.

“We’ll be watching very closely how the British government responds to what was said yesterday in the Parliament,” Merkel said. “I can’t assess how things will be on Thursday, far too much is in flux.” — Bloomberg