The E.U. Seems Ready to Put Brexit on Ice. But for How Long? – The New York Times

One argument against a long extension, which France makes, is that Britain could create difficulties with a new budget and other key issues, since it would remain a member with all of a member’s rights and responsibilities. President Emmanuel Macron is seeking some form of guarantee from Mrs. May that Britain would behave responsibly.

Mr. Macron has suggested quarterly “reviews” of Britain’s behavior during any long extension, which others find difficult legally. But it may be that as a compromise, diplomats suggest, the extension would run only to the end of October.

The idea is to give time for Britain to sort itself out and decide what kind of future relationship it wants. But in any case, European officials emphasize, the withdrawal agreement, including the Irish backstop, designed to guarantee no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, will not change.

There is little expectation in Brussels that Mrs. May’s current negotiations with the opposition Labour Party will come to a positive conclusion, hence the willingness for a long extension. But whether that means the end of Mrs. May’s premiership and new elections is not Europe’s concern, the officials say.

The difference now, in contrast to the last emergency council meeting last month, is that the European leaders have decided to take control over the length of any extension. What might happen at the end of it — including a no-deal Brexit, or a decision to stay in the European Union — would be up to Britain.

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