Brexit delay now unavoidable, says EU, as Andrea Leadsom and Jeremy Hunt warn of attempt to frustrate departure

In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, indicated that a “technical” extension would be needed to implement a deal.

“Barnier’s comments confirm the private view of a significant number of the Cabinet that a limited delay is now inevitable” says the Daily Telegraph, after Theresa May agreed to put the option to MPs if she fails to win a majority for her deal by 12 March.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has told cabinet colleagues that a delay of Brexit from 29 March to June is “very likely”, Ireland’s Sunday Independent quoted an unnamed minister as saying.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, the International Development Secretary Liam Fox also did not rule out a short delay to Brexit, even if May’s deal gets through, in order to get the legislation through parliament.

However, he also sought to allay the fears of Brexit-backing Tories that May’s offer to MPs of a vote on delaying the UK’s departure, if her deal does not get through Parliament, could scupper Brexit.

“To attempt to have a delay mechanism in order to thwart the process of Brexit itself is actually politically completely unacceptable,” he told Marr.

“And, as I have said before, would provoke a backlash amongst voters.”

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