Influential MEP says one-year Brexit extension is now the ‘best way forward’

Philippe Lamberts on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

Philippe Lamberts on Sky News. Photograph: Sky. - Credit: Archant

A Belgian MEP has called for a one-year extension to Brexit while Britain makes up its mind on the way forward.

Philippe Lamberts appeared on Radio 4's Today programme when he was asked if he agreed with the Benn act proposal that a three-month extension was "the way forward".

The Green MEP, who sits on the European parliaments Brexit steering group, said he was mindful to give Westminster what it had asked.

But he said he actually thought the best way forward would be a longer delay to give the Brits more time to make a final decision rather than continuing to grant extensions.

"I think the best way is not to appear as if we are playing games with the British parliament is to give what has been asked.

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"The British parliament gave the Benn bill that asked for an extension until January 31.

"We heed the parliament's request and I think anything else would be seen as playing games.

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"Personally, I do believe the best thing to do would be to grant a one-year extension and to say to the Brits, 'come back when you have made up your mind'.

"This is not what was asked so, we will see."

It comes as the European parliament, which doesn't have a say over the decision, backed an extension until 31 January.

The parliament's president David Sassoli, said: "After the vote of the British parliament to allow more time to examine details of the withdrawal agreement and prime minister Boris Johnson's decision to pause the bill following the vote, the British government's request for an extension until January 31 remains on the table.

"I think it is advisable, as requested by President Donald Tusk, that the European Council should accept this extension.

"This extension will allow the United Kingdom to clarify its position and the European Pparliament to exercise its role."

Reports claim that Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg prime minister, is looking to encourage other EU member states to make this the final extension offered.

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