Brexit: Germany 'won't oppose deadline extension'
Germany will not block a request from Britain to extend the deadline for its exit from the EU beyond October 31st, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Wednesday.
Asked about European Council President Donald Tusk's recommendation that EU's 27 other member states grant a flexible extension until January 31st, 2020, spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters the request would "not fail due to Germany".
In tense parliamentary votes on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won preliminary backing for the divorce deal he agreed with the EU, which would have seen Britain leave the bloc at the end of this month.
But MPs also rejected his bid to curtail parliamentary scrutiny of the bill and rush it through in a matter of days, prompting Tusk's extension recommendation.
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The decision on how long the prolongation will last will fall to member state leaders, many of whom would prefer a shorter delay to keep the pressure on Westminster to approve the deal quickly.
Within Germany's right-left ruling coalition, divisions appeared to be emerging on exactly how much time it would grant Britain.
While Seibert, speaking for conservative Merkel, signalled greater flexibility, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the centre-left Social Democrats indicated his patience was wearing thin.
"If it means delaying the date by two or three weeks to give MPs in London the chance to ratify the law" on leaving the EU, "it's really not a problem", he told RTL television.
However, he said if the delay was to last until January 31, Britain should be asked to explicitly justify its request.
"We'd need to know for what reason, what will happen in the meantime and whether there will be new elections in Britain," he said.
"We'd need to know Johnson's intentions because they are not clear as yet."