Britain denies plotting last-minute Brexit vote

The British government denied on Wednesday that it was secretly plotting to force MPs into a last-minute choice on Brexit between a rejigged deal and a lengthy delay. ITV television reported that it had overheard Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins in a Brussels bar saying the EU would probably let Britain extend its March 29 departure date. Such a move would effectively mean removing the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. ITV reported that it eavesdropped on Mr. Robbins, one of the key figures in the Brexit negotiations, talking to colleagues in a hotel bar on Monday. He was said to have indicated that if lawmakers — who overwhelmingly rejected the deal struck between London and Brussels — did not vote for a rehashed withdrawal agreement, then the delay to Brexit would be “a long one”. “The issue is whether Brussels is clear on the terms of extension. In the end, they will probably just give us an extension,” he was quoted as saying. A government spokesman said: “We would not comment on alleged remarks from a private conversation which is said to have been overheard in a hotel bar.” Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay denied that the reported comments reflected official government policy. “We are committed to leaving on March 29,” he told BBC radio.

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