According to Article 50 of the Maastricht Treaty, any country which seeks to leave the bloc has to do so two years after giving notice. The article was invoked by Britain on 29 March 2017, so the UK is set to pull out of the bloc in less than three months, though an extension is possible.
Boris Johnson, a former UK foreign secretary, has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to return to Brussels and avoid extending Article 50, which he claimed may scrap Brexit.
“By law on March the 29th, the UK must leave the EU,” Johnson said, adding that “the only way to extend or revoke Article 50 is with the approval of the EU and with the initiative of the UK government”.
He described potential attempts to extend Article 50 as “shameful” and “dishonest”, something that Johnson claimed weakens London’s “negotiating position once again”.
“I think the public will have the strong and altogether justified impression of an elite conspiracy to thwart Brexit. To extend Article 50 now would do nothing but erode trust in politics,” he pointed out.
Twitter users were quick to react to the former foreign secretary’s remarks, with many sarcastically reminding Johnson that he himself is part of the elite.
Johnson’s comments come a few days after UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the government would present a new plan on Brexit to the House of Commons on Monday following parliament’s rejection of her previous draft deal.
The PM also said that the EU would only extend Article 50 if parliament was “clear” there was an agreement underway. But European Commission spokeswoman Margaritis Schinas stated, in turn, that the UK has not yet requested an extension.
She also warned against a general election in Britain, which May said is “the worst thing we could do” and which “would bring chaos when we need certainty”.
In late November 2018, May’s spokesperson insisted London has no plans of revoking Article 50.